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D. HOGAN, 

PHILADELPHIA, 
Intends shortly to issue Proposals for Publishing 

THE LIFE 

OF THE 

Great Founder of the Protestant Reformation, 

MARTIN LUTHER; 

EMBRACING 

An interesting account of the Rise and Pro- 
gress of that great work. 



By ALEXANDER BOWER, 

EDINBURGH. 



i 



From clMr&cJ. cyDoLcia 1 in. .Tessessiim of 'MrBeMer, 



TkU.ad, Tub, 7jy V.JTogan, Market St. 



OF THE 

LIFE AMD WRITINGS 

OP 

JOHN CALVIN. 

TO WHICH IS PREFIXED, 

A BRIEF SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF 

©fje information* 



JOHN MACKENZIE. 



Printed from the last London Edition, with Additions, 



" Non tamen omnino potuit mors invida totum 
Tollere Calvinum terris *, aeteraa manebunt 
Ingenii monumenta tui : et livoris iniqui 
Languida paulatim cum flam ma resederit, omnes 
Religio qua pura nitet se fundet in oras 
Fama tui." Buchanan Poemat, 



PHILADELPHIA: ^ 

PUBLISHED AND SOLD BY D. HOGAN, 

No. 255, Mar'iet Street. 

1823. 



J. Anderson, Printer, 13. 
N. Seventh St. 



/ 



TO THE 

PROTESTANT DISSENTING MINISTERS 

OF THE 
THREE DENOMINATIONS, 
IN LONDON AND ITS VICINITY I 
IN ADMIRATION OF 
THEIR PROMPT AND EFFECTIVE INTERPOSITION 
ON BEHALF OF THE 
PERSECUTED FRENCH PROTESTANTS ; 

THIS LIFE 

OF ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL FOUNDERS 
OF THE 

REFORMED CHURCH IN FRANCE. 

H» Xnscrftctr, 

BY 




THE AUTHOR. 



ADVERTISEMENT to the SECOND EDITION. 



The Author has availed himself of the opportunity, 
f urnished by a Second Edition, to make such alterations, 
and, he hopes, improvements, as may confer upon his 
performance the character of a New Work. 

Having suppressed the greater part of the " Historical 
Appendix" in the former edition, he has been enabled to 
extend the Biography of Calvin, and to enter more into 
the detail of his times. 

The interest which has lately been excited on the sub' 
ject of the Reformation, will, he trusts, be extended to 
the Memoirs of one of its principal Promoters, who, in- 
ferior to none of his contemporaries in zeal, excelled 
them all in learning, and in important published Works, 



London, 
Jamiary, 1818. 



1* 



PREFACE. 



THE great importance of Biography, as 
a medium of public instruction, appears to 
be very generally admitted. Curiosity, a 
principle of active and extended influence, 
ever in quest of gratification, cannot be too 
early supplied with interesting and instructive 
objects, by an acquaintance with which intel- 
lectual attainments and moral improvement 
may be happily promoted. To render Bio- 
raphy conducive to these ends, it is obviously 
necessary, that genuine and attainable excel- 
lence of character be carefully attended to in 
the selection of subjects; as the exhibition of 
spurious morality, or unattainable perfection, 
must necessarily defeat the moral effect of the 
most alluring narrative. Excellence of cha- 
racter, arising from a great variety of causes, 
must be estimated chiefly by its moral influ- 
ence ; and it is principally under this view, 
that the enlightened biographer will choose to 



viii 



PREFACE, 



portray the subjects of his history. As ge- 
nuine religion forms the basis of public mo- 
rality, as well as of private virtue, it is certain 
that national prosperity and individual happi- 
ness must be wholly indebted for their ma- 
turity to such an association. To expect ele- 
vation of character, either national or indi- 
vidual, upon any other principle, is to seek (in 
the expressive language of the highest autho- 
rity) to " gather grapes of thorns, and figs of 
thistles." 

How far these views of biography are just 
in themselves, or have been illustrated in the 
following Work, it is not for the author to de- 
termine. The great variety of opinion exist- 
ing on the character and sentiments of the 
subject of these Memoirs, renders an attempt 
to illustrate them compatible, at least, with 
the general ends of Biography. Entertaining 
the highest veneration for the character which 
he has attempted to portray, the author has 
aimed at clearing it from those aspersions, 
which have their foundation in ignorance and 
malevolence alone. 

While he has thus been anxious to vindicate 
an injured name, it will, he trusts, be appa- 
rent, that he has not been influenced by blind 
partiality or sectarian zeal. So far as he is 



PREFACE. 



ix 



acquainted with his own motives, he feels no 
hesitation in avowing, that they are such as 
he wishes to carry with him, unaltered, to the 
grave. If an attempt to rescue a great charac- 
ter from the fangs of calumny, and to vindi- 
cate the doctrines of the glorious Reformation, 
should expose the author to the shafts of op- 
probrious censure, he will be abundantly com- 
pensated by the verdict of an approving con- 
science, and the sanction of discriminating 
readers. 

When it is considered that the public is not 
in possession of any detached life of Calvin, 
in English, there can be no doubt but that 
such a work, executed with care and imparti- 
ality, must be considered a desideratum in 
Evangelical Biography. 

With respect to the arrangement of the 
several parts, the author has adopted that 
which appeared to him, upon the whole, the 
most eligible. 

It will be sufficiently obvious to every intel- 
ligent reader, that the materials for the Work 
have been derived from the most authentic 
sources, most of which are acknowledged. 
In addition to the Narrative of Beza, the au- 
thor has to confess considerable obligations 
to a living author, Monsieur J. Senebier, of 



X PREFACE* 

whose excellent work, entitled, " Histoire Lit- 
teraire de Geneve," he has made considerable 
use. 

Confident that the general principles main- 
tained in the following pages require no apo- 
logy, the author commends them to HIS 
blessing, whose glory they are intended to 
promote, and who alone can render them 
really and extensively useful. 



J. M. 



contents 



Page 



Sketch of the Reformation 13 

CHAP. I. 

MEMOIRS OF THE LIFE OF CALVIN". 

Introductory. — Account of Geneva 43 

Birth and Education of Calvin — His Application to the 
Study of the Law — Reasons for quitting that Profession 
—Publication of his Institutes — Journey to Italy - - - 52 



CHAP. II. 

Calvin's Settlement at Geneva — His Banishment — Return to 
Geneva — Labours — Acquaintance and Public Dispute 
with Castallio — Letter to Luther — Is accused of teaching 
False Doctrine — Procures the Release of Ami Perrin — 



Confutes Bolzec publicly 65 

CHAP. IH. 

An Examination of the Reformers Conduct in the affair of 
Servetus 110 

CHAP. IV. 



Calvin's Intrepidity in refusing the Sacrament to Bertelier — 
Persecution of Farel — Calvin's Behaviour to the Perse- 
cuted Protestants — Character of Gentilis — Reflections on 
Intolerance — Calvin the means of founding a College - 128 



xii 



CONTENTS. 



CHAP. V. 

Calvin presented with the Freedom of the City of Geneva — 
Revises and Republishes his Institutes in Latin and in 
French— Replies to several Heretics — Though greatly 
afflicted by Disease, is unremitting in his Exertions — Is 
carried to the Church and receives the Sacrament from 
the Hands of Beza ------ - 142 

CHAP. VI. 

Calvin's Will — His Farewell Address to the Syndics — His 
Composure in the Prospect of Death — His Death — Burial 
— Epigram, and Character 151 

CHAP. VII. 



THE WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 

Character of Calvin as an Author and Commentator — Testi- 
monies to his Excellence from Papists and Protestants — 
Account of his Christian Institutes ; with Extracts on 
some important points of Doctrine 194 



A 

BRIEF SKETCH 

OF THE 

l&tetotrs of ttit XUformatfon* 



SKETCH 



OF THE 

REFORMATION. 



TO those persons who are adequately impressed 
with the advantages resulting from the glorious 
Reformation, a brief sketch of its history will not 
fail to prove interesting. Nor will the lessons of 
practical wisdom, which such a subject affords, be 
overlooked by the intelligent Reader, who will so 
distinguish principles, and discriminate character, 
as to derive ample improvement from the varied 
scene which may pass in review before him. 

Dark and dreary as was the night of superstition, 
during which luxurious priests revelled in wanton 
profligacy, its termination, decreed by Infinite 
Goodness, slumbered not. The means by which 
the reign of spiritual tyranny was to be overthrown, 
did not indeed form the subject of prophecy; nor 
could the most penetrating mind have developed 



16 



SKETCH OF THE 



their certain issue. The indignation of individuals, 
excited by particular abuses, appears, however, to 
have proved essentially useful in demolishing the 
hoary pile of corruption, as in the instances of 
WicklifFe, and of Luther in particular. Disgusted 
with the shameless profligacy of the Mendicant or- 
ders, and with the conduct of the Popes their pa- 
trons, WicklifFe threw off all restraint, and, despising 
the superstition of the times, exhorted the laity to 
study the Scriptures, which he translated into En- 
glish. 

Persecution against reputed heretics now raged 
with tremendous fury. John Huss, and Jerome of 
Prague, men of exalted piety and considerable dis- 
tinction in Bohemia, had made themselves many 
enemies among the clergy, by their disinterested 
and spirited remonstrances. Huss, in particular, 
had exasperated the See of Rome, by his attempts 
to detach the university of Prague from the papal 
jurisdiction of Gregory XII. Summoned to appear 
before the Council of Constance, and furnished 
with a safe-conduct from the Emperor Sigismund, 
the process against him was precipitated with all 
the ardour of ecclesiastical zeal. On the 6th day 
of July, 1415, he was led to the fatal pile, where he 
suffered death with an heroic constancy worthy of 
the cause which he had espoused, 



REFORMATION. 



17 



Prompted by a generous solicitude to support 
his persecuted friend, Jerome hastened to the 
Council. Terrified, however, by the prospect of a 
cruel death, he was induced to make some conces- 
sions ; but soon recovering his fortitude, he pro- 
fessed anew the opinions which he had for a mo- 
ment abandoned, and illustrated their sublime effi- 
cacy in the flames, in which he expired on the 30th 
of May, 1416. 

The principles of these heroic men, immortal as 
their spirits, survived the flames which had de- 
stroyed their bodies; nor was the cry from under 
the altar unheard. Their blood proved indeed 
" the seed of the church," and produced the fruits 
of which Britons now so richly partake. 

The dawn of the sixteenth century, serene and 
mild, predicted a day of tranquillity ; nor had the 
Roman pontiffs, apparently, any cause to appre- 
hend those storms which were about to burst upon 
them. The Waldenses, Albigenses, and Beg- 
hards, together with the Bohemians, were " van- 
quished, though unsubdued." The strong man 
armed kept his goods in peace, Utile suspecting that 
a stronger than he was about to dispossess him. The 
causes, however, which contributed to the over- 
throw of Anti-christ, were various aud irresistible. 
Amongst these, the revival of learning in Europe, 
2* 



18 SKETCH OF THE 

and the sudden appearance of a number of men of 
genius, served like so many constellations to cheer 
and illuminate the night of ignorance and of su- 
perstition. The Colloquies of Erasmus in particu- 
lar, as they contained a great deal of pungent sa- 
tire against the Monks, excited their warmest in- 
dignation, and induced them to say that " Erasmus 
laid the egg, which Luther hatched." The opera- 
tion of learning in counteracting abuses sanctioned 
by antiquity, was, however, very gradual; as it 
had to contend not only with the ignorance which 
identifies the utility of a custom with its antiquity, 
and thus consecrates abuses ; but also with a legis- 
lative authority, ever upon the alert against every 
thing exploded under the name of innovation, pos- 
sessed also of affluence to bribe, and power to pu- 
nish. 

Julius II. dying in the year 1512, he was suc- 
ceeded, in 1513, by Leo X. of the family de Medi- 
ci. Leo, though of a milder disposition than his 
predecessor, was equally indifferent about the inte- 
rests of real religion. A man of letters, and a man 
of pleasure, his time was divided between con- 
versation with men of letters and pleasure, though 
the latter engrossed by far the larger proportion. 
He was remarkable for prodigality, luxury, and 
imprudence; nor has this holy father escaped the 



REFORMATION. 



19 



charge of impiety and atheism. He is not, how- 
ever, to be accused of neglecting the object so dear 
to all his predecessors, — that of aggrandizing the 
Holy See. He took, therefore, the utmost care that 
nothing should be transacted in the Council of the 
Lateran, which Julius left sitting, that had the re- 
motest tendency to the reformation of the church. 
He went indeed still farther; and in a conference 
with Francis 1. King of France, at Bologna, en- 
gaged that monarch to abrogate the Pragmatic 
Sanction, and to substitute another body of laws, 
under the title of the Concordate, which was received 
by his subjects with the utmost indignation and re- 
luctance. 

To those who are acquainted with the entire in- 
fluence of superstition over the minds which it once 
pervades, and the ingenious policy of interested 
priests in supporting and propagating it, the over- 
throw of the papal hierarchy, and the establishment 
of principles of the most contrary genius, effected 
without the intervention of external violence, must 
appear to be the result of a presiding Providence, 
which frequently illustrates its potent energy, in ac- 
complishing events the most important, by the 
agency of means the most apparently inadequate. 
So degraded indeed was Christianity at this period, 
that, though the reformers pretended to no miracu- 



20 



SKETCH OF THE 



lous assistance, it is evident that the same hand 
which first planted Christianity, superintended the 
reformed faith from its early rise to its perfect ma- 
turity. 

Immense as were the revenues of the pontificate, 
the prodigality, luxury, and magnificence of Leo, 
exhausted the coffers of the church. Money being 
indispensable to the voluptuous state and splendid 
projects of the pontiff, recourse was had to the ne- 
ver-failing expedient of a sale of indulgences, or re- 
mittances from the pains of purgatory.* The right 
of promulgating these indulgences in Germany, as 
well as a share of the profits arising from them, was 



* According to the doctrine of the Romish church, all 
the good works of the Saints, over and above those which 
were necessary towards their own justification, are depo- 
sited, together with the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, in 
one inexhaustible treasury. • The keys of this were com- 
mitted to Saint Peter, and to his successors the Popes, 
who may open it at pleasure; and, by transferring a por- 
tion of this superabundant merit to any particular person, 
for a sum of money, may convey to him either the pardon 
of his own sins, or a release for any one, in whose happi- 
ness he is interested, from the pains of purgatory. Julius 
II. had bestowed indulgences on all who contributed to- 
wards building the church of Saint Peter at Rome; and as 
Leo was carrying on that magnificent and expensive fabric, 
his grant was founded on the same pretence." See Ro- 
bertson's Hist, of Charles V. vol. II. p. 106. 



REFORMATION. 



21 



granted to Albert, Archbishop of Magdeburg, who 
employed a Dominican, of the name of John Tet- 
zel, to proclaim in Germany the remission of all 
sins, past, present, and to come, to those who were 
rich enough to purchase those famous privileges. 
Assisted by the Monks of his order, Tetzel executed 
his commission with more zeal than discretion; 
though, by disposing of the indulgences at a low 
price, they carried on a lucrative trade amongst 
those who possessed more money than understand- 
ing. The princes and nobles felt indignant at this 
method of draining the wealth of their vassals in 
order to replenish the treasury of an extravagant 
pontiff. Even the common people were shocked at 
the behaviour of Tetzel and his associates, who 
consumed in drunkenness and debauchery those 
sums which ignorance had appropriated to the pur- 
chase of eternal happiness. 

An obscure Monk at Wittemberg, disgusted with 
the pretensions and conduct of Tetzel, formed the 
resolution of checking his career. Martin Luther, 
a name for ever to be revered by every protestant, 
challenged Tetzel, in ninety-five propositions, to 
defend himself and his pontifical employers, whom 
he censured as accomplices in these impositions on 
the people. Tetzel appeared immediately in the 
field, and attempted to refute Luther's propositions 



22 



SKETCH OF THE 



in two academical discourses, which he delivered 
on occasion of his promotion to the degree of 
doctor in divinity. 

Leo X. who at first beheld this controversy with 
indifference, was at length roused by the Emperor 
Maximilian I. who informed him what fatal divi- 
sions it was likely to produce in Germany. Acting 
upon this information, he summoned Luther to ap- 
pear before him at Rome, and there to plead the 
cause which he had undertaken to support. This 
summons, the effects of which, had it been com- 
plied with, it is not difficult to calculate, was super^ 
seded by the cautious policy of Frederick the Wise, 
Elector of Saxony, who asserted that the cause of 
Luther belonged to a German tribunal, and ought 
to be decided by the ecclesiastical laws of the em- 
pire. The pontiff, in compliance with the wishes 
of Frederick, ordered Luther to justify his conduct 
before Cardinal Cajetan, his legate, at the diet of 
Augsburg. A more imprudent step could not have 
been taken by the court of Rome, as Cajetan, being 
a Dominican, and the friend of Tetzel, was of all 
others the most unlikely to bring the controversy to 
a favourable issue. 

Luther, however, obedient to the pontiff's sum- 
mons, repaired to Augsburgh, where he had three 
interviews with the legate, who assumed so high a 



REFORMATION. 



23 



tone, as to produce in the mind and conduct of the 
reformer, only disgust and indignation. Under the 
influence of these feelings, Luther departed sud- 
denly from Augsburg, having appealed from the 
present decisions of the pontiff, to those which he 
should form when better instructed. 

Mortified by the total failure of Cajetan's com- 
mission, Leo appointed a new legate. This person 
was Charles Miltitz, a Saxon knight belonging to 
his court. Eminent for prudence, penetration, and 
address, he was admirably qualified for the ma- 
nagement of so critical a commission. With the 
intention of securing the influence of Frederick, 
Leo despatched Miltitz into Saxony with the golden 
consecrated rose, (the highest mark of distinction 
which the pontiffs were used to bestow upon their 
favourite princes,) and instructed him to compose 
the differences between Luther and Tetzel, and to 
effect a reconciliation between him and the court of 
Rome. The legate, in his first conference with 
Luther, succeeded so far as to persuade him to 
write a submissive letter to Leo, in which he pro- 
mised to observe a profound silence with reference 
to the subjects in debate, on the condition that the 
same obligation should be imposed upon his adver- 
saries. A second conference took place in the cas- 
tle of Liebenwerd, and a third the year following, at 



24 



SKETCH OF THE 



Litchtenberg. From the moderation which pre- 
vailed on these occasions, great hopes were enter- 
tained of an amicable adjustment of the differences 
in discussion. But the imprudent arrogance of the 
court of Rome blasted these fair blossoms, and re- 
newed the controversy with increased asperity. 

A public dispute, which took place at this time 
between Eckius, a zealous champion in the papal 
cause, and Carlostadt, a convert to the sentiments 
of Luther, proved eminently serviceable. The con- 
troversy itself turned upon the powers and freedom 
of the human will; and was followed by another 
between Luther and Eckius, concerning the autho- 
rity and supremacy of the Roman pontiff. One of 
the effects (not unfrequently the result of disputation) 
was an increase of bitterness on the part of Eckius, 
who from that period meditated the destruction of 
Luther. 

Among the spectators of this ecclesiastical com- 
bat, was Philip Melancthon, professor of Greek at 
Wittemberg, an intimate friend of Luther, as well 
as a promoter of his views. To the learning and 
influence of Melancthon, the Reformation must be 
allowed to be considerably indebted ; though it is 
equally certain that the natural timidity of his dis- 
position, and his excessive veneration for the great, 
prevented his improving that influence to its proper 
extent. 



REFORMATION. 



25 



While the cause of Anti-christ was thus visibly 
on the decline in Germany, it received a mortal 
wound in Switzerland from Ulrich Zuingle, a ca- 
non of Zurich, a man who united, with an extensive 
fund of learning, a spirit truly heroic. Disgusted 
by the sale of indulgences, entrusted to the ministry 
of an Italian Monk, whose name was Samson, he 
commenced a resolute opposition against him, at- 
tended with considerable success. The effect of his 
exertions was so great as to discredit the Pope's 
supremacy throughout the greater part of Swit- 
zerland. 

The cause of the Reformation was still farther 
promoted by an imprudent step which Leo X. at 
the instigation of the Dominicans, was induced to 
take. Overcome by their importunity, he issued 
out a bull against -Luther, dated the 15th of June, 
1520, in which forty-one pretended heresies, ex- 
tracted from his writings, were solemnly condemn- 
ed; and he was required within sixty days to retract 
his errors, and to solicit mercy from the offended 
pontiff, on pain of excommunication. 

Foreseeing the inevitable effect of this rash mea- 
sure, Luther prudently withdrew from the commu- 
nion of the church which he had long considered as 
essentially corrupt and erroneous, and, by putting 
the church of Rome out of his communion, de- 
3 



26 



SKETCH OF THE 



prived the pontiff's subsequent excommunication 
of all force and meaning. In the presence of 
an immense multitude of people of all ranks, he 
committed to the flames both the bull that had been 
issued against him, and the decretals and canons re- 
lating to the Pope's absolute jurisdiction. In about 
a month after this magnanimous step had been 
taken by the Saxon reformer, a second bull was 
issued out against him, by which he was ex- 
pelled from the communion of the church, for ha- 
ving insulted the majesty of the Roman pontiff.* 
The death of Maximilian I. making way for his 
grandson Charles V. to succeed him in the empire, 
Leo X. urged upon him the necessity of punishing 
Luther in the most exemplary manner, while Fre- 
derick the Wise employed his influence with Charles 
to shield him against the thunder of the Vatican. 
Indebted to the exertions of Frederick for his ele- 
vation to the empire, Charles had gratitude enough 
to satisfy the elector's demands. He resolved, there- 
fore, that Luther should appear before a diet to be 
assembled at Worms, in order to secure him a pub- 
lic hearing, before any urgent steps were taken 
against him. The conduct of Luther before this 
assembly was marked with equal modesty and firm- 



* See Mosheim's Eccl. Hist. Cent. xvi. sect. i. p. 322. 



REFORMATION. 



27 



ness. On his return from Worms, lie was surprised 
by some emissaries of the elector, disguised in 
masks, who conveyed him to the castle of Warten- 
burg, where he employed his involuntary leisure 
in composing works, which contributed greatly to 
the mccess of the cause in which he had embarked. 

The death of Leo occurring at this period, he 
was succeeded in the pontificate by Adrian VI. a 
native of Utrecht. Adrian, it appears, was pos- 
sessed of more honesty than was consistent with the 
policy of that age ; and was therefore warmly cen- 
sured for his concessions on the subject of the cor- 
ruptions of the church. Dying, however, in the 
course of a year, he was succeeded by Clement 
VII. a man as remarkable for a reserved character 
as Adrian had been for his frankness. The success 
of Luther, rapidly progressive, excited the attention 
of almost every nation, while it prompted to that 
freedom of investigation, which is the best friend of 
truth. The divisions which, however, crept in 
among the reformers on the subject of the manner 
in which the body and blood of Christ were present 
in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, by divert- 
ing their energy from their original object, proved 
productive of the most unfavourable effects. 

Finding that Luther gained continual and im- 
portant accessions of strength, the Papists turned 



28 



SKETCH OF THE 



their attention to a species of warfare^ upon which 
they placed more dependance than upon that of 
argument; and intimated their intention of making 
war upon the Lutheran party. But this malicious 
purpose was providentially defeated by the existing 
troubles of Europe. The results of the diet assem- 
bled at Spire, proved much more favourable to the 
friends of the Reformation; the German princes re- 
fusing to execute the sentence that had been pro- 
nounced at Worms against Luther and his followers. 

But the advantages resulting from the first diet 
of Spire were very limited in their duration, as, in 
a new diet assembled in the year 1529, in the same 
place, every change in the doctrine, discipline, or 
worship of the church of Rome, was declared un- 
lawful, until a general council should be assembled 
for the purpose of adjusting the disputed points. 
This decree being considered intolerable by the 
Elector of Saxony, the Landgrave of Hesse, and 
the other members of the diet who favoured the 
Reformation, they entered a solemn protest against 
it on the 19th of April, and appealed to a future 
council. From this circumstance arose the deno- 
mination of Protestants, which has ever since 
been given to those who renounce the communion 
of the church of Rome. 

An attempt to bring to a termination the disputes 



REFORMATION. 



29 



which had produced such divisions in the empire, 
was now made by Charles, who was returning to 
Germany with the intention of being present at the 
approaching diet at Augsburg. As the emperor re- 
mained hitherto uninformed with reference to the 
peculiar sentiments of the reformers, the Elector of 
Saxony ordered Luther and his friends to commit to 
writing the principal articles of their religious sys- 
tem,and the grounds of their dissent from the church 
of Rome. Luther, therefore, delivered to the Elector 
of Torgaw seventeen articles, which were afterwards 
called the Articles of Torgaw. These articles were 
extended by Melancthon in a manner which illus- 
trated the elegance and perspicuity of his mind ; 
and afterwards formed the Confession of Augsburg. 

The alarm which Clement VII. expressed with 
reference to the spread of the Lutheran tenets, was 
by no means unfounded, as some of the most consi- 
derable provinces in Europe had cast oft' the Ro- 
man yoke. Soon after Luther's rupture with Rome, 
one of his disciples, whose name was Olaus Petri, 
proclaimed religious liberty in Sweden. The ex- 
ertions of this missionary were powerfully seconded 
by Gustavus Vasa Eriscon, a prince of extraordi- 
nary public spirit. In the year 1527, the reformed 
religion obtained at once a complete triumph, and 
a permanent establishment. 

3* 



30 



SKETCH OF THE 



Denmark, also, received the light of the Refof- 
mation so early as the year 1521. For this ad- 
vantage it appears to have been indebted to Chris- 
tian, or Christiern II. who expressed an earnest de- 
sire to have his subjects instructed in the principles of 
Luther. His sole object, however, in favouring the 
principles of the Reformation, was the gratification 
of his ambition in destroying the influence of Rome 
m his dominions, and rendering himself supreme in 
church and state. Upon the deposition of Christi- 
ern, the cause of the Reformation found a more en- 
lightened friend in the person of his uncle Frederick, 
Duke of Holstein and Sleswick, who was placed on 
the throne of Denmark. The glorious work of ef- 
fectually destroying superstition, was however re- 
served for Christiern III. a prince of distinguished 
piety and prudence. 

In the kingdom of France, the Reformation 
dawned auspiciously under the patronage of Mar- 
garet, Queen of Navarre, sister to Francis I. the 
formidable rival of Charles V. The situation of 
the friends of the Reformation was, however, ex- 
tremely precarious: sometimes reposing in the 
shade of royal protection, at others exposed to the 
scorching rays of persecution, they had nothing to 
confide in but their principles, which, however* 
yielded them solace and support. 



REFORMATION. 



31 



About this time the famous Calvin, whose life 
will form the principal subject of the following 
pages, began to excite the attention of the public, 
and to attract the favourable notice of the Queen of 
Navarre. His zeal exposed him to various perils, 
from which he was rescued by the good offices of 
his illustrious friend, the Queen of Navarre. With 
the intention of digesting and elucidating the prin- 
ciples of the friends of the Reformation, he pub- 
lished his Christian Institutions, to which he pre- 
fixed that famous dedication to Francis I. the ob- 
ject of which was to soften the rigour of that prince 
against his Protestant subjects. 

Charles V. having arrived at Augsburg on the 
15th of June, 1530, the diet was opened with great 
solemnity on the 20th day of the same month. On 
the 25th of June, Christian Bayer, Chancellor of 
Saxony, read, in presence of the emperor and the 
princes assembled, the celebrated Confession, which 
has since been distinguished by the denomination 
of the Augsburg Confession. The creatures of the 
Roman pontiff, who were present, employed John 
Faber, afterwards Bishop of Vienne, to compose a 
refutation of the Confession. The arguments em- 
ployed by Faber were soon refuted in the most sa- 
tisfactory manner by Melancthon, who afterwards 
extended his answer, and in the year 1531, pub- 



32 SKETCH OF THE 



lished it under the title of A Defence of the Confes- 
sion of Augsburg. 

A severe decree being issued out against the Pro- 
testants on the 19th day of November, by the ex- 
press order of the emperor, the Elector of Saxony 
and the confederate princes formed an alliance at 
Smalcald, for the purpose of defending themselves 
vigorously against the encroachments of Rome. 
Into this confederacy they invited the kings of Eng- 
land, France, and Denmark, with several other 
states and republics. 

Two remarkable events, which occurred at this 
period, produced respectively the most important 
results, with reference to the Reformation. In the 
year 1533, a certain number of Anabaptists settled 
at Munster, a city in Westphalia, where, under the 
pretext of being invested with a divine commission, 
they attempted to lay the foundations of a new go- 
vernment, or a holy and spiritual empire. Having 
succeeded in overturning all the political institutions 
in Munster, they proceeded to erect a new republic, 
the administration of which they committed to John 
Bockholt, a tailor, and a native of Leyden. Their 
triumph, like that of the wicked in general, was 
short: for in the year 1535, the city was besieged 
and taken by the Bishop of Munster ; when this fa- 
natical king, and his associates, were put to death in 



REFORMATION. 



35 



the most ignominious manner. While it is impossi- 
ble to contemplate the conduct of these fanatics, 
without feeling the glow of indignation, it is impor- 
tant to guard against a disposition to transfer our 
disgust to those who are distinguished by the same 
denomination in the present day. Justice, however, 
requires us to confess, that they are as far removed 
from every thing offensive in the conduct of the fa- 
natics of Minister, as they are agreed with them on 
the article of baptism. It would indeed be equally 
just to reproach the present Americans, on the 
ground of the character and circumstances of their 
remote ancestors. 

The cause of the Reformation received, upon the 
whole, a considerable accession of strength from 
the ambiguous support of Henry VIII. King of 
England, who was the principal agent in deliver- 
ing his dominions from papal jurisdiction. Pro- 
fessing to entertain some scruples on the subject of 
his marriage with Catharine of Arragon, aunt to 
Charles V. and being really enamoured of an il- 
lustrious virgin whose name was Anna Boleyn, he 
earnestly sought a divorce from the former, in or- 
der to render legitimate his passion for the latter. 
With this view he applied to Clement VII. alle- 
ging Conscientious scruples as the ground of his 
wish to obtain a divorce. Clement^ perplexed be- 



34 



SKETCH OF THE 



tween the fear of offending the emperor by con- 
forming to Henry's wishes, and the dread of incur- 
ring that monarch's displeasure by refusing to 
comply with them, had recourse to procrastinating 
evasions, as the only method of conduct which he 
could pursue with safety. Tired with the tardy 
measures of the Roman pontiff, Henry had re- 
course to a measure suggested by the famous 
Thomas Cranmer, a secret friend of Luther and 
his cause, who was afterwards raised to the See of 
Canterbury. The advice of Cranmer was, to de- 
mand the opinions of the most learned universities 
in Europe, on the subject of Henry's scruples. The 
greatest part of the universities declared the mar- 
riage with a brother's widow unlawful. Catha- 
rine was divorced, and Anna conducted to the 
royal bed. Henry, renouncing the jurisdiction of 
the court of Rome, was declared by the parliament 
and people, Supreme Head, on earth, of the Church 
of England ; and the power and authority of the 
Pope were completely overturned. It deserves, 
however, to be carefully considered, that while 
Henry withdrew himself from the tyranny of Rome, 
he considered the title of Head of the English 
Church as vesting virtually in himself the enormous 
power which had been previously exercised by the 
Roman pontiffs. Hence, during the reign of this 



REFORMATION. 



35 



despot, the face of religion was ever changing, in 
comformity to the caprice of its new chief. The 
influence of Cranmer, the favourite of Henry, 
served, however, to counteract the vehemence of 
this inconstant monarch, and to dispel the mists of 
ignorance. 

On the death of Henry, which took place in the 
year 1547, he was succeeded by Edward VI. a 
prince of elevated genius and exemplary piety. 
Deeply interested in the prosperity of the Refor- 
mation, he addressed a particular invitation to 
Martin Bucer, and to Paul Fagius, that, under the 
auspices of their learning and piety, his subjects 
might be confirmed in the pure truths of Christi- 
anity. His reign was, however, too short to ac- 
complish his generous purposes. In the year 1553, 
he was removed from his affectionate subjects, and 
succeeded by his sister Mary, a furious abettor of 
the papacy. Among other victims, the learned 
and pious Cranmer was sacrificed to her cruelty. 
A stop was, however, put to these dreadful cruel- 
ties by her death, in the year 1558; and being 
succeeded by Elizabeth, the protestant cause re- 
vived and flourished. During her reign, that form 
of religious doctrine and ecclesiastical discipline, 
which still subsists in England, was established as 
the national religion. 



36 



SKETCH OF THE 



In Scotland the seeds of the Reformation were 
early sown by several noblemen of that nation, 
who had resided in Germany during Luther's dis- 
putes with the court of Rome. But the most dis- 
tinguished opposer of the papal jurisdiction, was 
John Knox, a disciple of Calvin, whose talents and 
fortitude qualified him eminently for the labours 
and dangers of a reformer. This determined cha- 
racter quitted Geneva for Scotland, in the year 
1559 ; and, by means of preaching and private ex- 
hortations, imbued the minds of his countrymen 
with so entire a disgust for the superstitions of 
Rome, as to induce them to aim at nothing less 
than the extirpation of Popery in all its forms. 
The form of worship and discipline which had 
been established at Geneva, by the ministry of 
Calvin, was universally adopted, and continues to 
the present day, notwithstanding many efforts to in- 
troduce into that kingdom the episcopal hierarchy 
of the church of England. 

In Ireland the cause of the Reformation was 
greatly promoted by George Brown, a native of 
England, and a Monk of the Augustin order, who 
was created Archbishop of Dublin, in the year 1535. 
Encouraged by the conduct of Henry VIII. he 
purged the churches of his diocess from various su- 
perstitions, and, by his influence, caused the king's 
supremacy to be acknowledged in that nation. 



REFORMATION. 



37 



In the Belgic provinces, the yoke of Rome was 
shaken off with an impetuosity that was perhaps 
rather excessive. To the heroic conduct of William 
of Nassau, seconded by the exertions of England 
and France, this state owed its deliverance from 
the Spanish yoke. 

The eyes of several persons in Spain were opened 
to the truth, not merely by the controversies be- 
tween Luther and the court of Rome; but by 
means also of those very divines who had been se- 
lected by Charles V. to combat the sentiments of 
the Reformers. These Spanish doctors, instead of 
refuting, having imbibed the opinions of Luther, 
propagated them on their return home. 

The spirit and conduct of the reformers having 
been censured by an elegant historian as tinctured 
with enthusiasm, the judicious translator of Mo- 
sheim has been at the pains to repel the accusation, 
in an appendix, in which he triumphantly proves, 
that the reformers possessed precisely that spirit 
which was necessary to the successful prosecution 
of their object, while it was at the same time at the 
farthest possible remove from enthusiasm. Having 
instanced, in the person of several of the reformers, 
the truth of his assertion, he concludes by a de- 
scription of the manner in which Calvin promoted 
the noble cause which he had espoused. 

4 



38 



SKETCH- OF THE 



" As to Calvin, every one," observes this writer, 
" who has any acquaintance with history, knows 
how he set out in promoting the Reformation. It 
was by a work composed with a classic elegance of 
style, and which, though tinctured with the scho- 
lastic theology of the times, breathes an uncommon 
spirit of good sense and moderation. This work 
was The Institutes of the Christian Religion, in which 
the learned writer shews, that the doctrine of the 
reformers was founded in scripture and reason. 
Nay, one of the designs of this book was to shew, 
that the reformers ought not to be confounded with 
certain fanatics, who, about the time of the Refor- 
mation, sprung from the bosom of the church of 
Rome, and excited tumults and commotions in se- 
veral places. The French monarch, Francis I. to 
cover with a specious pretext his barbarous perse- 
cution of the friends of the Reformation, and to 
prevent the resentment of the Protestants in Ger- 
many, with whom it was his interest to be on good 
terms, alleged, that his severity fell only upon a 
sect of enthusiasts, who, under the title of Anabap- 
tists, substituted their visions in the place of the 
doctrines and declarations of the Holy Scriptures. 
To vindicate the reformers from this reproach, 
Calvin wrote the book now under consideration ; 
and though the theology that reigns in it be 



REFORMATION. 



39 



chargeable with some defects, yet it is as remote 
from the spirit and complexion of fanaticism, as 
any thing can be. Nor indeed is this spirit visible 
in any of the writings of Calvin that I have pe- 
rused. His Commentary upon the Old and New 
Testament is a production that will always be es- 
teemed, on account of its elegant simplicity, and 
the evident marks it bears of an unprejudiced and 
impartial inquiry into the plain sense of the Sacred 
Writings, and of sagacity and penetration ill the 
investigation of it." 



OP THE 

LIFE *1.M> WRITINGS 

OF 

JOHN CALVIN. 



fUtmoUs 

OF THE 

LIFE OF CALVIN. 



Introductory. — Account of Geneva. 

" SO strong and prevalent is the desire of liber- 
ty, and so deeply is the love of it implanted in every 
bosom, that we with pleasure call off our attention 
from monarchies and empires raised by tyranny, to 
fix it on little states where freedom reigns. Many 
a simple flower, when its qualities are understood, 
is as worthy our notice as the proud cedar, at whose 
foot it blossoms. It is not the size of objects alone 
which claims our admiration, but rather some pe- 
culiar beauty and contrivance that we discover in 
them. 

" Hence it is that there is no government in the 
world which can challenge greater respect than that 
of Geneva. It is a place which, for many years, 
hath been much resorted to by such of our young 
countrymen whose fortunes indulge them in that 
part of education which we call travelling; of 
whom not a few make a considerable stay here, 
and find opportunities of being well assisted in 



44 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



whatever studies they are desirous to pursue. As 
it lies in one of the principal passages into Italy, it 
hath been mentioned by several Voyage writers ; 
but as none have entered into a detail of its govern- 
ment and laws, I flatter myself that such a work 
may not be unacceptable, and that the reader will 
not be displeased to know somewhat of a republic, 
founded in wisdom and virtue. He will not find 
here the ambition of one, making thousands wretch- 
ed, and augmenting the miseries of life. He will 
not here meet legions of armed men rushing abroad 
into the world, and with the thunders of war, dis- 
turbing the peace of mankind; but, on the contrary, 
he will be conveyed to the gentler scenes of aca- 
demic silence, where philosophy is more studied 
than the sword. He will see a people happy and 
free, yet who have defended themselves with bra- 
very on every occasion, against the various en- 
croachments of tyranny and oppression, — a people 
who make temperance the guardian of their healths, 
and who bar up every avenue to the blandishments 
of luxury. He will remark the care that is taken 
by the state, to promote religion and virtue ; to in- 
fuse into all its subjects such a tincture of learning 
as is suitable to their different stations; and to 
form the character of a good citizen upon that of a 
good Christian. He will observe by what laws the 
dignity of the magistrate and the liberties of each 
individual are maintained ; and, in fine, by what re- 
gulations (which is an object not unworthy our 
curiosity) five and twenty thousand people preserve 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



45 



the utmost harmony within their walls, and live to- 
gether like one great family. 

" While the wisdom of man hath rendered this 
city a mild and amiable dwelling, the hand of Na- 
ture hath also co-operated, and marked the scene 
she hath spread around it, as one of her happiest 
labours. It is situated on a most beautiful spot, 
at the head of the Leman Lake, acknowledged the 
largest and finest in Europe. This noble piece of 
water is about sixty English miles in length, and in 
its broadest part about twelve, though much nar- 
rower towards the two extremities of it. It is of a 
remarkable blue transparent colour; is well stocked 
with fish, and particularly famous for its trout, 
which are often found of a prodigious size. The 
Rhone rolls into it at the opposite end, from the 
country called Le Vallais, and having blended its 
waters with those of the Lake, separates itself in 
two rapid streams, which run through part of Ge- 
neva, forming a little island in the town, and im- 
mediately re-uniting, continue their course into 
Prance. It is bordered, on the side of Switzerland, 
by the Pais du Vaud, a tract of country formerly 
conquered from the Dukes of Savoy by the canton 
of Bern ; and which may truly be esteemed one of 
the gayest and most delicious spots that can be be- 
held ; being covered with towns, country houses, 
woods, vineyards, and gardens, and the view ter- 
minated by that range of hills known under the 
general name of Mount Jura. The Savoy side. 



46 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



though less fertile, is more woody, and makes a 
pleasing contrast ; for the high precipices, and vast 
mountains, that bound the sight all round, and rise 
behind one another in so many wild and fantastic 
forms ; some totally bleak and barren, others ver- 
dant, others covered with perpetual snows, and 
seen from many leagues distance, fill the mind with 
an agreeable astonishment, and produce some of 
the most noble and stupendous scenes that can be 
imagined ; scenes capable of furnishing a thousand 
new ideas to the fancy of the Poet and the Painter. 

" Geneva is a city of great antiquity, being men- 
tioned frequently by Caesar, in his Commentaries, 
by the same name it now bears. 

" In 1534, and 1535, it formed itself into a Re- 
public, and by degrees obtained that form of go- 
vernment which exists to this day. 

" The sovereign power is lodged in Three Coun- 
cils; namely, 

" The General Council; 

" The Council of Two Hundred; and 

" The Council of Twenty-five. 

" The General Council is composed of such ci- 
tizens and burgesses as have attained the age of 
twenty-five years. Their numbers usually amount 
to 1500, not including those who are in foreign 
countries. The law orders the Councils of Twenty- 
five, and Two Hundred, to summon the General 
Council twice a year for the election of magis- 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



47 



trates ; and if affairs of consequence demand a more 
frequent meeting, they have a right to call them 
as often as shall be necessary. 

" The attributes of this Council are, 

1. The power of making laws. 

2. The power of electing the principal magistrates. 

3. The power of making alliances, of approving, 
or rejecting what is proposed in relation to ex- 
changes or alienations of lands belonging to the 
state, and of borrowing money. 

4. The power of war and peace. 

5. The power of raising subsidies. 

6. The power of consenting to, or disapproving 
what is proposed with regard to fortifications. 

il The Council of Two Hundred is composed of 
two hundred and fifty citizens and burgesses, who 
fill up this body as often as there are fifty vacan- 
cies. The members must be thirty years of age 
complete ; they have their seats for life, except they 
become bankrupts, or are degraded by the censure 
which is annually made. 

" The attributes of this Council are, 

1. To be the supreme court of justice. 

2. To have the power of pardoning. 

3. To dispose of all important charges, and to 
elect the Council of Twenty-five. 

4. To deliberate on what is to be proposed in the 
General Assembly. 

5. To be consulted on all affairs of importance. 



48 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



" The Council of Twenty-five, or Little Coun- 
cil, must be chosen out of such of the citizens as 
are members of the Council of Two Hundred : 
they continue for life, unless in the before-men- 
tioned cases of insolvency or degradation. 

" The attributes of this Council are, 

1 . The executive power of all that regards the law 
of nations. 

2. The cognizance of all inferior affairs, which are 
not of consequence sufficient to demand a convo- 
cation of the Council of Two Hundred. 

3. The judging of all criminal causes without the 
power of pardoning, which is lodged in the 
Council of Two Hundred. 

4. The judging of civil causes, though the parties 
have a right of appeal to the Council of Two 
Hundred, whenever it is a matter of above 
twenty or twenty-five pounds value, or in other 
respects of importance. 

5. The naming to all little employments. 

6. The right of having the principal magistrates 
chosen out of its own body. 

7. The power of summoning the Council of Two 
Hundred, as often as it thinks proper. 

8. The administration of the finances. 

9. The creation of burgesses. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



49 



Of the Church of Geneva. 

" It is well known that Calvin was its founder, 
who had a great share in forming its political, as 
well as spiritual legislation : and it is no wonder 
that the people rejected episcopacy, as they shook 
off the fetters of popery in opposition to their 
bishop. 

" The government of the church is democratical, 
under the superintendance of a chief, styled the 
Moderator, who is changed every week without 
election ; he who follows him in order among the 
pastors, succeeding ipso jure. 

" The pastors have a fixed salary paid out of 
the public stock ; those in the city not receiving 
more than sixty pounds sterling per annum, and 
those in the country about half that sum. They 
have their particular parishes assigned them. 

" Their service is decent, bat devoid of form; 
their prayers are few, and their liturgy short. 
They never kneel nor bow in church ; and, except 
during prayers, wear their hats, the minister him- 
self preaching covered. 

" To us in England, who are so much accustomed 
to hear of sinecures and pluralities, and to see cler- 
gymen in possession of large incomes, and at the 
same time so little conscientious of their great trust, 
as to abandon the instruction of their parishes to 
the mercy of some indigent curate ; it must, with- 
out doubt, seem extremely surprising, that the mi- 
nisters of Geneva should, with so sma.ll salaries, 
5 



50 



MEMOIRS OF TH£ 



religiously discharge their duty. It will thence be 
easily conceived, that in becoming ecclesiastics, 
they are not greatly influenced by pecuniary ad- 
vantages. They are generally indeed men, whose 
circumstances and leisure have afforded them a 
learned education, and whose honour and virtue 
prompt them to become serviceable to their coun- 
try. Hence it is, that the word of God is preached 
with the utmost decency and propriety, and the 
clergy are held in such high esteem, as to have, 
on all public occasions, the same rank as the mem- 
bers of the Little Council. 

Of the Consistory. 

" The Consistory is an ecclesiastical court, com- 
posed of all the pastors of the republic, and twelve 
laymen ; two of whom are members of the Little 
Council ; a third is one of the auditeurs ; and the 
nine others are taken from the Council of Two 
Hundred. The pastors are perpetual members of 
this court, but the laymen are only chosen for six 
years. 

" They assemble every Thursday, and oftener 
when occasion requires it. 

" They have cognizance of all public scandals, 
and proceed on the report which the pastor makes, 
in whose division such offence is committed. They 
inflict ecclesiastical penalties, such as censures, and 
excommunications for a certain time ; and, for ci- 
vil punishment, are obliged to send the delinquents 
to the Council of Twenty-five. This court also 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



51 



gives its opinion in matrimonial cases, which are 
first presented here, and afterwards carried before 
the Little Council. 

" It hath not the least coercive power ; for the 
officers, who are members of it, sit there not as ma- 
gistrates, but as a part of a religious society. — If 
obedience is refused, either to its citation or sen- 
tence, it addresses itself for relief to the Little 
Council. 

" This tribunal enjoys the privilege, common to 
all the citizens, of presenting remonstrances to the 
Council of Twenty-five, which is done by sending 
deputies, who demand audience of the Council. 
The body ecclesiastical, as well as the body politic, 
censures its members. 

" One cannot, I think, without some degree of 
pleasure and satisfaction, behold a commonwealth, 
the seat of freedom and letters, strenuous in the 
cause of independency, and watching, with a paren- 
tal care, over the happiness of its subjects. Nor 
can we admire it without at the same time earnestly 
wishing, that while Heaven continues to give the 
Genevois a sufficient portion of virtue to maintain 
their liberties, it may turn the ambition of neigh- 
bouring princes (for too apt is power to leap over 
the bounds of justice) from wantonly disturbing 
their tranquillity, or offering their rights any bar- 
barous insult."* 



* See a short account of the Ancient History, Present 
Government, and Laws of the Republic of Geneva, by 
George Keate, Esq. 1761. 



52 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



CHAP. I. 

Birth and Education of Calvin — His Application 
to the Study of the Law — Reasons for quitting 
that Profession-— Publication of his Institutes — 
Journey to Italy., 

JOHN CALVIN* the celebrated Reformer, 
was born at Noyon, a town in Picardy, on the 10th 
of July, 1509. Undistinguished by the splendour 
of family consideration, it was reserved for him to 
give dignity and perpetuity to a name, which had 
hitherto occupied an humble but respectable rank 



# The circumstance of a trifling alteration in the name 
of our reformer, which it appears was Cauvin, having been 
maliciously perverted by some of his enemies, we shall 
present our readers with a justification of it in the words 
of the celebrated Mr. Drelincourt. " In reality," saith 
he, " the change of a letter in Calvin's name is very in- 
considerable, or rather, signifies nothing at all ; for being 
to turn Cauvin into Latin, if one would give it an air and 
termination suitable to the genius of the language, how can 
one turn it otherwise than by Calvinus ? for as all good 
authors call that in Latin, Calvus, which the Picards call 
Cauve, and the Frenchmen Chauve, so, instead of Cauvin 
m Picard, and Chauvin in French, the Latin must have it 
Calvinus. Now this godly man's first work being written 
in Latin, and he thereby known by the name of Calvinus, 
if after that, when he wrote in French, he had used any 
other name than that of Calvin, the work might have been 
taken for another man's, to the no small damage of the 
reader and printer.' 7 — Defense de Calvin, par Drelin- 
court, p. 202. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 53 

in society. His father, whose name was Gerard, a 
sensible and prudent man, had gained the esteem 
and friendship of all the neighbouring gentlemen, 
and particularly of the family of Montmor, a family 
of the first distinction in Picardy. John Calvin 
was brought up with the children of this family, and 
accompanied them to Paris, where he pursued his 
studies with them under Marturin Cordier, regent 
of the College de la Marche ; a man illustrious for 
his erudition and integrity, who spent his life in tu- 
ition at Nevers, at Bourdeaux, at Neuf Chatel, at 
Lausanne, and at Geneva, where he died in the 
eighty-fifth year of his age, and in the same year 
as Calvin. 

On quitting the College de la Marche, Calvin re- 
moved to that of Montaign, the tutor of which was 
a learned Spaniard. Here he advanced so rapidly 
in his studies, that he soon entered upon philoso- 
phy. But as he had from his youth discovered 
considerable piety, and an extreme horror at vice, 
frequently censuring the excesses of his compa- 
nions, Gerard thought that he should be following 
the inclinations of his son, in consecrating him to 
theology. He therefore procured for him, in the 
year 1529, a benefice in the cathedral church at 
Noyon, and the rectory of Point L'Eveque, where 
he was born. Here Calvin, though unordained, 
preached frequently. 

How mysterious are. the ways of Providence ! 
How little propable did - it appear, from Calvin's 
present situation and prospects (a member and a 
5* 



54 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



minister of the church of Rome), that he should 
be an instrument appointed to overthrow that pile 
of corruptions ! Two reasons, however, concurred 
in influencing our reformer's future character and 
conduct; they were dissimilar indeed m their nature, 
but tended equally to one point — that of inducing 
him to quit his ministry in the church of Rome. His 
father resolved to make him study the law, con- 
vinced that it was the most certain method of ac- 
quiring riches and honour. Calvin having been 
instructed in the true religion by one of his rela- 
tions, named Pierre Robert Olivetan 5* and having 
carefully perused the Scriptures, began to be dis- 
gusted with the doctrines of the church of Rome, 
and resolved to renounce her communion. Thus, 
either to comply with his father's wishes, or his own 
inclinations, he quitted the study of theology, for 
that of the law, and removed to Orleans, where he 
made such progress in that science, under Pierre 
de l'Etoile,f the most celebrated of all the French 
civilians, that he was considered rather a master 
than a scholar. In the absence of the professors, 
he frequently supplied their place, and acquired so 
much esteem in the university, that they offered to 
present him with a doctor's degree. 

This period of the life of Calvin illustrates, stri- 



* Author of a French translation of the Bible, printed at 
Neuf Chatel. 

+ Pierre de PEtoile was afterwards president of the 
parliament of Paris, and was called in Latin, Petrus Stella, 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 55 

t 

kingly, the importance of early habits of applica- 
tion, as laying the foundation for future eminence 
and usefulness. Without entering upon the unpro- 
fitable question, whether genius be intuitive or ac- 
quired, it will certainly be more useful to remem- 
ber, that all the illustrious instances of superior 
powers, have been as remarkable for early indus- 
try and extensive acquirements, as they were emi- 
nent for distinguished rank in the literary world. 
Milton, Locke, Sir Isaac Newton, Boyle, Bacon, 
Addison, and Johnson, are characters highly illus- 
trative of this remark. What they would have 
been, independently of their severe application, and 
rich acquirements, we are not capable of con- 
ceiving ; but that they would have occupied a much 
lower station in the republic of letters, is absolutely 
certain. The importance of literature to the cause 
of Christianity is, perhaps, greater than some of 
its sincerest friends are willing to admit.* It is 
true, indeed, that in the first promulgation of the 
gospel, it triumphed gloriously over the learning 
and the prejudices of its opposers; but it will be 
allowed, that it was then accompanied with influ- 



* " All persons, in every age and nation, competent to 
read the best classics with facility and intelligence, have 
unanimously considered an acquaintance with them as 
highly conducive, if not absolutely necessary, to the for- 
mation of a just taste and habit in composition, to the com- 
plete knowledge of the human character, to the most ad- 
vantageous study of the Holy Scriptures, and to the due 
appreciation of the glorious gospel. The apostate empe- 



56 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



ences which have since been withdrawn ; and that 
in many subsequent periods, it has been illustrated 
and enforced by the genius and eloquence of many 
of its abettors. Nor is learning less indebted to 
pure Christianity ; this might easily be shewn by 
a comparative view of its state before and after the 
Reformation, upon which the learning and piety of 
Calvin had evidently so happy and decided an in- 
fluence. 

In the midst of his various employments, our re- 
former was a diligent student of the Holy Scrip- 
tures, and obtained so clear an insight into their 
meaning, that many persons, whom God had in- 
spired with a desire to be instructed in the true re- 
ligion, applied to him^ for information, and were 
equally impressed with his zeal and his knowledge. 
He was at this time so diligent a student, that after 
having supped lightly, he continued reading until 
midnight, and in the morning was employed while 
in bed, in reviewing what he had read the night be- 
fore. There is no doubt but that these late studies 
contributed to his extensive erudition, and his re- 
markable memory; but they also materially injured 



ror, that bitter and subtle enemy of our faith, calculated 
judiciously on the tendency of his machinations, when he 
forbade the Christians to teach in their schools, the hea- 
then poets, moralists, and historians.. It would be well if 
all modern friends of the gospel were as perspicacious as 
Julian was, in discerning the connection of ancient learn- 
ing and the great cause of revealed truth. 77 — Vide Eclec- 
tic Review for March 1 807. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



57 



his health, and brought on that weakness of sto- 
mach with which he was afflicted all his life, and 
which at length shortened his days. 

Andre Alciat, one of the most celebrated civi- 
lians of his age, having rendered famous FAcade- 
mie de Bourges, Calvin wished to attend his lec- 
tures. During his residence there, he formed an 
intimate friendship with Melchior Wolmar, profes- 
sor of Greek ; a man of considerable merit, and an 
excellent tutor; who taught Calvin Greek, an ob- 
ligation which he acknowledged, by dedicating to 
him his Commentary on the Second Epistle to the 
Corinthians. 

With his laborious studies he associated an inces- 
sant perusal of the Scriptures, and sometimes 
preached in a small town in Berri, named Ligneres, 
with the consent, and frequently before, the seig- 
neur of that department. 

His father dying while he was at Bourges, he 
was obliged to abandon the study of the law, and 
to return to Noyon. At Paris, which he visited 
shortly afterwards, he published his Commentary 
on Seneca's Book on Clemency, an author, the pu- 
rity of whose sentiments were in perfect unison 
with the morals of Calvin; and whom he always 
read with pleasure. He was then only twenty-four 
years of age; but, notwithstanding his youth, he 
became soon known and esteemed by those who 
were devoted to true religion. Amongst, the per- 
sons with whom he formed an acquaintance at this 
period, was a merchant, who was afterwards burned 



58 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



for his attachment to the gospel, named Estienne 
de la Forge, of whom he frequently spoke with 
commendation. Of this person he makes mention 
in his fourth chapter of the book which he wrote 
against the libertines. 

During his residence at Paris, renouncing the 
pursuit of all other sciences, he consecrated himself 
to theology and to God ; to the inexpressible satis- 
faction of the reformed, who secretly held their as- 
semblies there. 

Nicholas Cop, rector of l'Academie de Paris,* 
having on a public occasion spoken freely against 
public errors in religion, and given offence to the 
parliament, was summoned to appear at court. On 
his journey he was informed that he would be im- 
prisoned. He consequently returned immediately, 
and quitting the kingdom, retired to Basil. 

Calvin, being an intimate friend of Cop, was 
obliged also to take flight. After his departure, 
Marin, the bailiff, one of the most cruel persecutors, 
went to his room in the College de Fortret, intend- 
ing to take him prisoner; but not finding him, 
seized his papers and books, amongst which were 
found several letters from his friends, which ex- 
posed them to extreme danger; so great was their 
aversion to the Romish church. But the Queen of 
Navarre, a princess of uncommon merit, having 
sent for Calvin, treated him with great respect, list* 



* Son of William Cop, physician to the king, born at 
Basil. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



59 



ened to him with pleasure, and made use of her in- 
fluence with the king, Francis I. her brother, to ap- 
pease the tempest which had arisen against the re- 
formed. 

What an apparent ignorance of the genius of 
Christianity, and of human nature, have persecutors 
invariably discovered! Taking our estimate of 
Christianity from their exhibition of it, we should 
be ready to suppose, that its predominant quality 
was hatred, and its ultimate object, extermination. 
How ignorant of human nature must they be, who 
are not instructed in this most obvious truth, that 
opposition only strengthens opinions, and confirms 
prejudices ; that it is equally incapable of subduing 
truth, and of suppressing error! 

Having quitted Paris, Calvin retired to Xain- 
tonge, where, at the request of a friend, he com- 
posed some formularies of sermons and Christian 
exhortations, which he induced the rectors to use as 
homilies, in order to excite the people to pursue 
their inquiries into the truth. About this time he 
took a journey to Nerac, to visit Jacques Le Fevre 
d'Estaples, who had been tutor to the children of 
Francis I. and who, to avoid the persecutions of the 
Sorbonne, had retired to that town under the pro- 
tection of the Queen of Navarre. The good old 
man rejoiced to see him, and predicted that Calvin 
would one day be a powerful instrument of esta- 
blishing the true religion in France. 

He did not, however, remain long at Nerac, but 
went from thence to Paris. Yet, as he had many 



60 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



enemies there, who had meditated his destruction, 
he was obliged to remain concealed. The provi- 
dence of God appears, however, to have conducted 
him to Paris at this time. For Michael Servetus 
began about this period to broach his blasphemies 
against the Holy Trinity; and as he appeared to 
desire an interview with Calvin, the latter attended 
at the time and place appointed, though at the risk 
of life. But he waited for him in vain ; Servetus had 
not sufficient courage to meet him. 

The following year was disgraced by many cru- 
elties inflicted upon several pious characters. Ge- 
rard Rufi, Docteur de Sorbonne, and Coraud, a 
Monk of the order of St. Austin, who, under the pa- 
tronage of the Queen of Navarre, had many years 
laboured with considerable success to establish the 
knowledge of the truth in Paris, were torn from 
their pulpits, and dragged to prison. The king, 
Francis I. being influenced by the Catholics, was 
so highly incensed by some writings which had been 
published against the Mass, and which had even been 
posted up on the door of the Louvre, that after a 
procession and public prayers, at which he assisted 
with his three sons, bareheaded, carrying a torch in 
his hand, in expiation of this crime; he commanded, 
that in the middle of the four most frequented parts 
of the city, eight of the reformed should be burned 
alive; and swore that he would not spare his own 
children, should they be infected with that execrable 
heresy. 

What a disgusting picture of bigotry and fanati- 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



61 



cism are we here presented with ! and how strikingly 
does it prove the folly of so identifying a national 
religion with Christianity, as to constitute a sepa- 
ration from its pale, the proof of heresy ! In this 
view, how much more detestable is the Papal than 
the Pagan persecution ! With respect to the Pagan 
religion, the first Christians were innovators, as it 
regarded the very substance and essence of their 
mythology and worship. They not only declared 
their worship to be superstitious, but denounced 
their belief as absurd, and their morality as corrupt. 
The Protestants, on the other hand, innovated 
chiefly in the circumstantials of religion. For 
though no intelligent Protestant will allow the 
church of Rome to be a true church of Christ, 
every candid Protestant will admit, that in her fun- 
damental articles she recognizes the distinguishing 
doctrines of Christianity. The plain language of 
the Papal persecution, therefore, holds out the ab- 
surd idea, that' it is more important to be agreed in 
the circumstantials than in the fundamentals of re- 
ligion ; and that uniformity of opinion is of more 
consequence when it respects the drapery of her 
disciples, than their character. 

Considering the deplorable state to which bis 
brethren were reduced, Calvin, after having print- 
ed, at Orleans, an excellent work entitled La Psy- 
chopannychie, which he composed against those who 
believed that the souls of the just, separated from 
their bodies, sleep until the resurrection, resolved 
to quit the kingdom. 

6 



62 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



Accompanied by the young man with whom he 
resided at Xaintonge, he proceeded to Basil by the 
way of Lorraine. Near Metz, a serious calamity 
befel him. Being plundered by a servant who fled 
with one of the horses, he must have been reduced 
to considerable difficulty, had not the other servant 
providentially had ten crowns, which defrayed their 
expenses to Strasbourg, from whence they proceed- 
ed comfortably to Basil. There he formed a close 
friendship with Simon Grinee, and with Walfang 
Capito, and applied himself to the study of the He- 
brew language. 

Though he wished at this time to remain in ob- 
scurity, as appears by a letter written to him by 
Bucer, he was, notwithstanding, constrained to pub- 
lish his Christian Institutes, to serve as an apology 
for his persecuted brethren. For as Francis I. was 
desirous of the friendship of the Protestant princes 
of Germany, and knew that they would disapprove 
of the murder of his Protestant subjects, he affirmed 
that he had only put to death the Anabaptists, who, 
far from making the word of God the rule of their 
faith, gave themselves up to their disordered imagi- 
nations, professing a contempt for magistrates, and 
sovereign authorities. 

Calvin, who could not bear to see the true reli- 
gion thus calumniated, thought it necessary to 
publish his Institutes, which he dedicated to Fran- 
cis I. addressing him in such an admirable manner, 
that, if that prince could have been persuaded to 
peruse it, the church of Rome might then have re- 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



63 



eeived a mortal wound.* For the king differed in 
many respects from those who succeeded him ; his 
taste and his judgment were exquisite ; he loved 
learning and literary men ; nor did his inclination 
lead him to hate persons of the reformed religion. 

Whilst Calvin was finishing this work, he learn- 
ed that Italy cherished in many places ideas fa- 
vourable to the Reformation 5 he therefore flew to 
the celebrated Duchess de Farrare, the daughter 
of Louis XII. whose genius and accomplishments 
made her known to all the learned, and towards 
whom the wisest of the reformers turned with at- 
tention, because her sentiments were not very re- 
mote from theirs. This princess, who was ac- 
quainted with Calvin's merit, received him with 
distinction, and Calvin confirmed her in her princi- 
ples. She conceived also for him an esteem which 
she retained through life, and expressed to him in 
a great variety of letters. Notwithstanding this 
protection, the Inquisition, aroused by the name of 
Calvin, pursued him to the court of the duchess, 
and obliged him to fly. It was, no doubt, at this 
time that he arrived at the town of Piedmont, in 
which he at first preached the Reformation with 



* u Which disgrace put upon the true religion, Mr. 
Calvin not enduring, took occasion from thence to pub- 
lish that his incomparable book, prefixing a preface to 
King Francis, which surely he never read, or else it 
would have provoked him to have given a great wound 
to the Babylonish Whore." — The Marrow of Ecclesi- 
astical History, by Samuel Clark, 1675. 



64 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



success, but from whence he was afterwards driven 
by intolerance. This fact is attested by a pillar of 
eight feet in height, still existing, erected to im- 
mortalize the arrival of Calvin at Aost, and his ba- 
nishment from thence. Hanc Calvini fuga erexit 
anno mdxli. Religionis constantia reparavit anno 
mdccxli. This monument appears to have been 
erected in 1541, but the event which it celebrates 
took place towards the end of 1535, or the begin- 
ning of 1536* 



* Histoire Litteraire de Geneve, par J. Senebier, 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



65 



CHAP. II. 

Calvin's Settlement at Geneva — His Banishment — 
Return to Geneva — Labours — Acquaintance and 
Public Dispute with Castallio — Letter to Luther 
— Is accused of teaching False Doctrine — Pro- 
cures the Release of Ami Perrin — Confutes Boh 
zee publicly. 

ON quitting Italy, Calvin returned to France, 
with Anthony, his only remaining brother ; but on 
account of the persecutions, which then ran high, 
he soon resolved to return to Basil or Strasbourg, 
But the direct road being then impassable on ac- 
count of the war, he was compelled to go through 
Geneva. He had then no intention of stopping 
there ; but the event soon made it evident that he 
had been conducted thither by a secret determina- 
tion of Providence. This was in the month of Au- 
gust 1536. The reformed religion had been won- 
derfully established there by Guillaume Farel, and 
Pierre Viret. Farel had been instructed, not in a 
convent, as some have supposed, but in the school 
of Jacques Le Fevre d'Estaples. Calvin, not wil- 
ling to pass through Geneva without paying his 
respects to them, made them a visit; on which oc- 
casion Farel earnestly entreated him to stop at Ge- 
neva, and help him in the labour to which God had 
6* 



66 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



called him. But perceiving that Calvin was not to 
be prevailed upon, he said, " You have not any 
other pretext to refuse me, than the attachment 
which you profess for your studies ; but I warn 
you in the name of Almighty God, that if you do 
not share with me the holy work in which I am 
engaged, he will not bless your designs, since you 
prefer your repose to Jesus Christ." Calvin, sub- 
dued by this appeal, submitted to the wish of the 
seigneurs, and of the Consistory of Geneva ; by 
whose suffrages, and the consent of the people, he 
was received to the charge of the ministry, in the 
month of August 1536. 

" In the month of September, John Calvin came 
to Geneva, with his brother Anthony. The excel- 
lent works, the various circumstances of the life, the 
great pains, and unwearied industry of this great 
man, make up a great part of the ecclesiastical his- 
tory of Geneva, for near thirty years; having been 
for so long a blessed instrument in God's hands 
to maintain that pure Reformation which had been 
preached by others, but was not yet settled upon a 
very sure foundation. He gave in a manner to it 
a new birth, by the good and wise regulation, the 
church government and discipline established there. 
Perhaps never a man before him, since the Apos- 
tles, that did more good to any church, than he did 
to this. 

" In order to keep up the memory of that great 
and excellent work of the Reformation, a fine and 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



67 



devout Latin Inscription was put on the outside 
wall of the town-house, where it is now to be seen. 
It is written in golden letters. 

" Q.UUM anno 1535 

PROFLIGATA 
ROMANI ANTIC HRISTI 
TYRANNIDE, 
ABROGATISQUE EJUS SUPERSTITIONIBUS 
SACROSANCTA CHRISTI RELIGIO £ 
HIC IN SUAM PUR1TATEM, 
ECCLESIA 
IN MELIOREM ORDINEM 
SINGULARI DEI BENEFICIO REPOSITA J 
ET SIMUL 
PULSIS FUGATISQJJE HOSTIBUS, 
URBS IPSA IN SUAM LIBERT ATEM, 
NON SINE INSIGNI MIRACULO 
RESTITUTA FUERIT '. 
SENATUS POPULUSQJJE GENEVENSIS 
MONUMENTUM HOC PERPETUiE MEMORISE 
FIERI, 

ATQUE HOC LOCO ERIGI 

CURAVIT ; 

QUO SUAM ERGA DEUM GRATITUDINEM 
AD POSTEROS TESTATAM FACERET." * 



* The Church History of Geneva. By the Rev* Mr. 
A. Le Merrier, 1732. 



68 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



This year was remarkable for a close alliance 
contracted between Bern and Geneva ; and for the 
establishment of religion in Lausanne, after a con- 
ference between the Protestants and the Catholics, 
at which Calvin presided. He was also engaged in 
a defence of the reformed, who were attacked by 
the Anabaptists, against whom he employed scrip- 
ture and argument with so much success, that he 
expelled that sect entirely from Geneva. In the 
same year he was obliged to plead his cause at 
Bern, against Caroly, who had accused him of 
Arianism. 

Geneva was at this time very far from being in 
a state of tranquillity. The true religion was in- 
deed established, and the faith of the church of 
Rome was abolished. But many atrocious crimes 
were still committed, which had long reigned, and 
which the example of the clergy had contributed to 
maintain. The principal families were at variance, 
on the ground of dissensions which had originated 
during the war of Savoy, and which time had not 
been able to extinguish. Farel and Calvin, deeply 
afflicted by these disorders, made a representation 
to the council, to induce them to attempt the cor- 
rection of the public morals. They preached with 
energy against the vices of the times : and as truth 
always appears severe to those who are conscious 
of being guilty, the warmth of their zeal was com- 
plained of, Coraut was forbidden to preach, and 
being disobedient to the injunction, was imprisoned. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



69 



Farel and Calvin were hated by those who pre- 
ferred their vices and their pleasures to good order, 
to the advancement of religion, and to the good of 
their country ; they therefore united their efforts to 
get rid of those vigilant ministers. 

But, besides these divisions, there was another 
evil which afflicted the church of Geneva. In some 
regulations respecting ecclesiastical discipline, she 
was not perfectly agreed with the church of Bern. 
For the Genevese celebrated the Lord's Supper 
with leavened bread ; and judging that the baptis- 
mal fonts were not necessary to the administration 
of baptism, they had removed them from their 
places of worship. They had also abolished all 
their feasts, except Sunday. The church of Ge- 
neva having been required, at a Synod held at 
Lausanne, to re-establish the use of the baptismal 
fonts, and the feasts which she had abolished, and 
the ministers of Geneva wishing to be heard before 
they were condemned, it was resolved that all these 
differences should be settled in a synod to be held 
at Zurich. 

The syndics, who were at the head of the sedi- 
tious, profiting by these divisions, assembled the 
people, when, the majority being under their influ- 
ence, they procured an order from the council, by 
which these three faithful ministers were command- 
ed to leave the town in three days. This order 
being communicated to Calvin, — " Certainly," 
said he, " if I had served men, I should have been 
ill recompensed ; but, I have served a Master, who. 



70 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



far from not rewarding his servants, pays them 
what he does not owe them." 

Farel retired to Neuf Chatel, and Calvin to 
Strasbourg, where Bucer, Capito, and Hedio, en- 
gaged the council of that town to appoint him pro- 
fessor of theology, and pastor of a French church, 
into which he introduced his ecclesiastical discip- 
line. 

Not long after this unjust banishment, Calvin 
extinguished a greater evil, which would probably 
have been attended with the worst consequences, 
had not this illustrious exile applied a prompt re- 
medy to it. Jacques Sadolet, Bishop of Carpen- 
tras, was a man of considerable eloquence, which 
he employed bnly to oppose the truth. His morals 
being regular, the Pope made him a cardinal, with 
a view to give a currency to the false doctrine 
taught in his church. The cardinal, seeing that 
the people of Geneva were deprived of such excel- 
lent pastors, thought this a favourable opportunity 
to attract them to the Romish religion, with which 
view he wrote a long letter, wherein he employed 
all his address and talents to overthrow the re- 
formed religion, and to establish his own. There 
w 7 as at this time no person in the town capable of 
answering him; and if this letter had been written 
in French, it is probable that it would have created 
considerable disturbances amongst a people so 
much divided and so ill disposed as they were at 
this time. But Calvin, forgetting all the injuries 
which he had sustained, evinced that the love 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



which he had professed for that church was not di- 
minished ; and answered the Cardinal with so 
much eloquence and spirit, that he abandoned his 
project entirely. 

This was not, however, the first expression of 
tenderness which Calvin had shewn for the Gene- 
vese ; for he discovered the interest which he took 
in all their afflictions, by addressing to them several 
letters from Strasbourg, wherein he exhorted them 
to repentance, to peace, to charity, and to the 
love of God, teaching them to hope that a bright 
light would soon dissipate the fatal darkness in 
which they were enveloped. The event justified 
the prediction. At this time he republished his 
Christian Institutes, with many additions, and de- 
dicated them to his intimate friend Simon Grinee ; 
he published also a piece on the Lord's Supper, 
highly admired by the wisest and the best of men. 

He was also useful in reclaiming many Anabap- 
tists who were brought to him from various parts, 
and amongst others, Paul Volse,* who died a mi- 
nister of Strasbourg, and Jean Storder Liegeois, 
whose widow Calvin afterwards married, by the 
advice of Bucer ; she was a person of extraordinary 
merit. 

Such were the occupations of Calvin until the 
year 1541, when the Emperor Charles V. con- 
voked a diet at Worms, and afterwards at Ratis- 



* It was this person to whom Erasmus dedicated his 
book of the Christian Soldier. 



72 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



bonne, to settle the differences which had arisen in 
Germany. Calvin, by desire of the ministers of 
Strasbourg, assisted at the diet, in which he proved 
useful to the churches, and particularly to those of 
France, and highly pleased Philip Melancthon, 
who always spoke with applause of Calvin, calling 
him The Theologian. He also acquired the esteem 
of Gaspar Cruciger, minister of Wittemberg, who 
wished to confer with him in private ; and having 
learned his opinion on the Lord's Supper, declared 
his entire approbation of it. 

The faction which had procured the banishment 
of Calvin being overthrown, the Genevese were 
anxious to recall him. In the year 1540, they 
wrote to him at Strasbourg, to offer him the em- 
ployment of which they had deprived him ; but he 
replied that he could not now dispose of himself, 
that he belonged to Strasbourg, and that he wished 
to be replaced at Geneva by Viret. The council 
then sent Ami Perrin, one of the elder syndics, to 
Strasbourg, to entreat the magistrates to restore 
Calvin to Geneva : being supported by the cantons 
of Zurich, of Bern, and of Basil, they complied 
with his request. Calvin was then gone to Worms 
and to Ratisbonne, whither he had been sent by the 
German reformers to assist at the assemblies held 
there, relative to religion, where he learned what 
was taking place at Geneva ; but he still resisted 
the offers which they made him. At length, soli- 
cited afresh by the council and the ministers of that 
town, encouraged by Bucer, informed that the 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



73 



council had revoked his banishment on the 1st of 
May, 1541, and longing to be useful to his ene- 
mies, he tore himself from his church at Stras- 
bourg, (who gave him leave of absence for two 
years,) left Ratisbonne, and set out for Geneva. 

Alluding to the return of Calvin to Geneva, the 
judicious Hooker remarks — " It was not unlikely 
but that his credit in the world might many ways 
stand the poor town in great stead; as the truth is, 
their minister's foreign estimation hath been the 
best stake in their hedge. But whatever secret re- 
spects were likely to move them, for contenting of 
their minds, Calvin returned, as he had been ano- 
ther Tully, to his own home." 

Upon his arrival he was congratulated by the 
acclamations of the people; and presented to the 
council the letters of the magistrates of Strasbourg. 
The Genevese, charmed at re-possessing him, wrote 
to Strasbourg to obtain his final release. Stras- 
bourg at length relinquished Calvin to the reitera- 
ted entreaties of Geneva ; bestowing upon him his 
citizenship, and wishing to continue to him the 
emoluments he had received, which, however, he 
refuse^, though he went to a very diminished in- 
come at Geneva. 

Firm to his principles, because he thought them 
the basis of the public weal, he applied himself im- 
mediately, upon his return to Geneva, to prevent 
the corruption of morals, and projected an ecclesi- 
astical police, which he submitted to the council. 
He revised the ecclesiastical ordinances with some 

7 



74 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



magistrates, who were appointed to assist him. 
These laws were presented to the general council, 
who sanctioned them on the 20th of November 
1541. It was evident how far Calvin was from 
wishing to give too much power to the ecclesiasti- 
cal body, so well was the ecclesiastical authority 
balanced by the civil. This tribunal of morals, 
called the Consistory, was originally composed of 
laics and ecclesiastics, but the number of the for- 
mer was then most considerable. This body, re- 
spectable for the importance and delicacy of its con- 
stitution, had no power to inflict corporal punish- 
ments; but merely to refer the more important 
cases to the council, with its own judgment on the 
evidence. The prosperity of Geneva long remained 
the happy fruit of these wise laws, which contribu- 
ted powerfully to maintain the purity of the ancient 
morals. They contributed greatly to the lustre 
and preservation of the republic; and it might ea- 
sily be proved, that one of the causes of the misfor- 
tunes of Geneva was, the diminution of the influ- 
ence of those laws upon individuals. Rome was 
lost when the voices of the censors could no longer 
be heard ; and Sparta fell with the credit of those 
who were charged with the care of watching over 
the public morals, and of making virtue respected. 

Shortly after his return he composed a catechism 
in Latin and in French, divided into questions and 
answers. This work, which proved highly useful 
to the church, was so well received by different na- 
tions, that it was not only translated into many 



LIFE OF CALVIN* 



to 



living- languages, such as the German, the English, 
the Scotch, the Flemish, the Spanish, and the Itali- 
an, but also into Hebrew and into Greek. * 

Out of respect to Farel and Viret, Calvin dedi- 
cated his Commentary upon the Epistle of St. Paul 
to Titus, to them. " In short, their mutual affec- 
tion was so great, that they were called the Tri- 
vet ; i. e. a ring with three feet ; and they were 
called so to signify their firm union in supporting 
the weighty cause of the Reformation. Beza hath 
very well expressed the particular character of 
those three great men, and good friends, Calvin, 
Farel, and Viret, in the following epigram : 

" Gallica mirata est Calvinum Ecclesia nuper 

Quo nemo docuit doctius : 
Est quoque te nuper mirata Farelle tonantem 

Quo nemo tonuit fortius : 
Et miratur adhuc fundentem mella Viretum : 

Quo nemo fatur dulcius. 
Scilicet aut tribus his servabere Testibus olim, 

Aut interibis Gallica." f 

Notwithstanding the relief which Calvin conti- 
nually received from Farel and from Viret, it is not 
easy to conceive how he sustained his various la- 
bours ; especially if we consider that he was the 



* It was translated into Hebrew by Emmanuel Tre- 
mellius, and into Greek by Henrie Etienne. 

f The Church History of Geneva. By the Rev. An- 
drew Le Mercier, 1732.' 



76 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



subject of several violent and continual disorders. 
During a fortnight in each month, he preached 
every day ; gave three lectures in theology every 
week; assisted at all the deliberations of the Con- 
sistory, and at the meetings of the pastors ; met the 
congregation every Friday ; instructed the French 
churches by the frequent advices which they soli- 
cited from him ; defended the Reformation against 
the attacks of its enemies, and particularly those of 
the French priests ; was forced to repel his nume- 
rous antagonists, by various books which he com- 
posed for that purpose ; and found time to publish 
several other works, which, by their solidity and 
depth, are calculated for the instruction of every 
age. 

But these occupations formed only a part of the 
labours of this great man: the council charged 
him with many painful and difficult commissions ; 
and he was obliged to undertake long and frequent 
voyages. The council, who knew that he was an 
excellent civilian, as well as theologian, consulted 
him habitually in all important concerns. He was 
particularly employed in framing the edicts and 
legislative acts of the town, which were completed 
and approved in the year 1543. By his reputation 
and his eloquence he prevented the usual troubles 
of a rising government, and inspired confidence 
amongst the different bodies of the state : they 
knew the extent of his talents ; they respected his 
integrity, and reposed confidently in the inviolable 
attachment which he ever manifested for justice 
and truth. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



77 



In the year 1543, he presented the church of 
Geneva with a liturgy, together with directions as 
to the manner of celebrating the Lord's Supper, 
and Baptism. 

At this time, Charles V. appeared anxious for a 
general council, in which affairs relating to the Ca- 
tholic and Reformed religions might be discussed ; 
but this plan, far from pleasing the Pope, excited 
his warmest indignation. Nor was it indeed likely 
that his holiness should be so unconversant w r ith the 
interests of a splendid and secular hierarchy, as not 
to know that its most formidable enemy was a spi- 
rit of free inquiry and ample discussion : following, 
therefore, his apparent interest, he preferred the 
convenient asylum of infallibility. Paul III. was 
not, however, ashamed to publish his sentiments on 
this plan; but Calvin abundantly repelled the argu- 
ments of the pontiff, at the diet assembled at Spire. 
In another work, which appeared at this time, he 
proved the necessity of a reform of the church. 

A great name is a signal for calumny to the en- 
vious ; they unite in order to destroy it. It is true, 
that Calvin often made himself enemies by saying 
cutting truths ; his zeal exasperated him against 
those who either attacked truth, or wounded virtue: 
perhaps a consciousness of superiority rendered 
him severe upon those who disturbed him by ill- 
founded attacks, or unreasonable obstinacy. 

Calvin became acquainted with Castallio in the 
year 1539, at Strasbourg. In a translation of the 
Bible into Latin, he had attempted to make the 
7* 



78 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



ancient Hebrew writers speak in the language of 
Cicero, and even endeavoured to make them some- 
times breathe the tender verses of Ovid : this ver- 
sion Calvin highly blamed, as well as several sen- 
timents which it contained. Castallio, whose pride 
was wounded, asked permission of the council to 
dispute publicly with Calvin on the descent of Je- 
sus Christ into hell, which they refused ; but, from 
a love of truth, and a respect for liberty of think- 
ing, he was allowed to commence that dispute be- 
fore the assembly of ministers : it lasted a long 
while without any success. Castallio at length be- 
came so highly irritated, that he attacked Calvin in 
a sermon, and so grossly insulted the ministers of 
Geneva, that the council deposed him from the mi- 
nistry. Castallio retired to Basil, where he per- 
sisted in his singularities, and in his hatred of Cal- 
vin, until the time of his death, 

The Sorbonne, finding themselves supported by 
P. Liset, first president of the parliament of Paris, 
whose memory is execrated by all good characters, 
undertook to draw up some articles of faith ; and 
though it was not 'difficult to detect the falsity of 
the dogmas which they contained, they were, not- 
withstanding, approved by the timid and the igno- 
rant. This induced Calvin to publish a piece, in 
which, mingling the subtlety of raillery with the 
solidity of reasoning, he clearly displayed the er- 
rors of the Sorbonne. 

" A letter, about this time, was intercepted from 
Calvin to Viret, and read before the council, ac- 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



79 



cusing the Genevois of impiety and hypocrisy. 
Calvin, being questioned upon this letter, boldly 
justified it, but applied his reflections to particular 
persons; upon which he was acquitted; and he 
continued his disputations and publications upon 
religion with great success."* 

Amongst other enemies, by whom the church 
was attacked, was Albert Pighius, whom Calvin 
withstood and refuted, notwithstanding his nume- 
rous avocations. Pighius, being a profound so- 
phist, thought, that though Calvin was a formida- 
ble adversary, it would not be difficult to vanquish 
him ; and that he could thus signalize himself, and 
obtain a cardinal's hat, as the price of his victory. 
But Calvin repelled the attacks of Pighius with so 
much vigour, that he found himself disappointed of 
the recompense which he had anticipated, and 
reaped from his temerity only shame and confu- 
sion. Melancthon, to whom Calvin dedicated his 
work, to testify the esteem in which he held it, 
wrote several letters, which were afterwards pub- 
lished, and which may serve to undeceive pos- 
terity with -respect to the calumnies which have 
been thrown upon those illustrious men. A letter 
which Calvin wrote to the church of Montbelliard, 
is a sufficient answer to those who accuse him of 
severity in the exercise of ecclesiastical discipline. 

To refute the errors of the Anabaptists, and of 



* The Modern Part of an Universal History, by the 
Authors of the Ancient Part. 



80 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



the libertines, who had revived the most detestable 
heresies of antiquity, he composed a work which 
it is impossible to read with attention without be- 
ing shocked at their detestable doctrines. This 
work, however, displeased the Queen of Navarre ; 
for though she was not infected with their errors, 
she was so fully persuaded of the merit of Quintin, 
and of Pocquet, the most famous leaders of that 
sect, whom Calvin had named in that work, and 
had so great a regard for them, that it was impos- 
sible to attack them without deeply wounding her. 

Calvin, having learned that she supported those 
sectaries, wrote to her with such address and pru- 
dence, that, preserving the respect which was due 
to her, as well on account of her dignity, as of se- 
veral kindnesses which she had bestowed upon the 
church, he addressed her with a boldness and free- 
dom worthy a courageous servant of God, and 
represented to her the impropriety of defending 
such persons. Thus he maintained the dignity of 
his ministry ; and his labours were so successful, 
that that execrable sect, which had begun to spread 
in France, was confined to Holland and the neigh- 
bouring countries. 

" In the year 1541, John Calvin, who surpassed 
almost all the doctors of this age, in laborious ap- 
plication, constancy of mind, force of eloquence, 
and extent of genius, returned to Geneva, from 
whence the opposition of his enemies had obliged 
him to retire. On his settlement in that city, the 
affairs of the new church were committed to his 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



81 



direction, and he acquired also a high degree of 
influence in the political administration of that re- 
public. This event changed entirely the face of 
affairs, and gave a new aspect to the reformed 
church. For he not only undertook to give strength 
and vigour to the rising church, by framing the 
wisest laws and the most salutary institutions for 
the maintenance of order, and the advancement of 
true piety, but even proposed to render Geneva 
the mother, the seminary of all the reformed 
churches, as Wittemberg was of all the Lutheran 
communities. He laid a scheme for sending forth 
from this little republic the succours and ministers 
that were to promote and propagate the Protestant 
cause through the most distant nations, and aimed 
at nothing less than rendering the government, 
discipline, and doctrine of Geneva, the model and 
rule of imitation to the reformed churches through- 
out the world. The undertaking was certainly 
great, and worthy of the extensive genius and 
capacity of this eminent man: and great and ardu- 
ous as it was, it was executed in part, nay, carried 
on to a very considerable length, by his indefati- 
gable assiduity and inextinguishable zeal. It was 
with this view, that, by the fame of his learning, as 
well as by his epistolary solicitations and encou- 
ragements of various kinds, he engaged many per- 
sons of rank and fortune, in France. Italy, and 
other countries, to leave the places of their nativi- 
ty, and to settle at Geneva ; while others repaired 
thither merely out of curiosity to see a man whose 



82 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



talents and exploits had rendered him so famous, 
and to hear the discourses which he delivered in 
public. Another circumstance, that contributed 
much to the success of his designs, was the es- 
tablishment of an academy at Geneva, which the 
senate of that city founded at his request ; and in 
which he himself, with his colleague, Theodore 
Beza, and other divines of eminent learning and 
abilities, taught the sciences with the greatest repu- 
tation. In effect, the lustre which these great men 
reflected upon this infant seminary of learning, 
spread its fame through the distant nations with 
such amazing rapidity, that all who were ambitious 
of a distinguished progress in either sacred or pro- 
fane erudition, repaired to Geneva ; and that Eng- 
land, Scotland, France, Italy, and Germany, seem- 
ed to vie with each other in the number of their 
studious youths, that were incessantly repairing to 
the new academy. By these means, and by the 
ministry of these his disciples, Calvin enlarged 
considerably the borders of the reformed church, 
propagated his doctrine, and gained proselytes 
and patrons to his theological system, in several 
countries of Europe."* 

During this year, the plague made the greatest 
ravages in Geneva. Affected by the afflictions of 
his fellow citizens, and alarmed at the corrupt state 
of morals, which made him apprehensive of still 
more fearful evils, Calvin thundered from the pul- 



* Mosheim. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



83 



pit against their vices : he also engaged the coun- 
cil to enact severer laws against fornication and 
adultery.* In the midst of the distress which he 
felt at the view of this exterminating scourge, 
which was depriving Geneva of its citizens, he ex- 
perienced some consolation from the succours 
which he procured for the Vaudois, who had es- 
caped the massacres of Merindol, and of Chabriere; 
having obtained for them a sum of money from the 
town of Strasbourg, and from the German princes. 
It was not in his own power to give any thing him- 
self, because he possessed nothing ; but, as he never 
asked for himself, so he always conscientiously dis- 
tributed the liberality of his benefactors to those 
who were unfortunate. 

The year 1541 was rendered "infamous, by that 
abominable and cruel edict which the Parliament 
of Aquitaine set forth against the poor Waldenses 
of Merindol, Cabriers, and those parts, whereby 
most unheard-of cruelties were exercised, not 
against some few, but against all of them, without 
any distinction of ages or sex, yea, to the very 
burning of their towns. Some of these that es- 
caped flying to Geneva, Master Calvin was the 
more afflicted for them, and careful of them, be- 



* " In the year 1542, the plague being at Geneva, the 
great palace was fitted up for an hospital ; but the magis- 
trates held Calvin in so great esteem, that they would not 
suffer him to attend the infected, and he went to Stras- 
bourg, where he renewed his disputations with Caroline." 
— Modem Part of Universal history. 



84 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



cause a little before he had written consolatory 
letters to them, and sent them faithful pastors for 
the instructing of them out of the pure gospel, 
and had also (where they were in danger before) 
preserved them by his intercession to the German 
Princes and Helvetians."* 

" In the year 1545, the province of Provence, 
was governed by a nobleman of the name of Ope- 
de; during whose administration that whole de- 
partment was such a scene of cruelty, devastation, 
and slaughter of the saints of the Most High, as is 
almost too horrible to be related: and therefore a 
specimen may suffice. Commissions were exe- 
cuted in great abundance against the heretics, by 
the advocate Guerin, and war proclaimed by sound 
of trumpet, both at Aix and Marseilles. The troops 
being levied, were joined by five ensigns of the old 
bands of Piedmont, on which the army was put in 
motion. On the 14th of April they arrived at Ca- 
dinet, and on the 16 th began to set fire to the villa- 
ges of Cabriers, Pepin La Mothe, and St. Martin. 
The peasantry and labourers were slain without 
making resistance ; their wives and daughters vio- 
lated, pregnant females and little children massa- 
cred without pity or compassion. The governor 
issued a proclamation, that none should dare, on 
pain of the halter, to give food or shelter to any of 
the fugitives. The soldiers ransacked, burnt, aud 



* Marrow of Ecclesiastical History. By Samuel Clark, 
1675. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



85 



pillaged whatever came in their way, leaving none 
of the inhabitants alive but such as were reserved 
for the gallies. On the 17th, Opede put himself 
at the head of the Piedmontees, and on the following 
day caused the villages of Larmarin, Ville Laure, 
and Trezemines, to be burnt, while the Sieur de la 
Rocque burnt Gens on and la Rocque. On his arri- 
val at Merindol, Opede found the town wholly desert- 
ed, except by one person, a kind of idiot, who sur- 
rendered himself without resistance to the soldiers. 
Finding no other person on whom to wreak his ven- 
geance, Opede caused him to be fastened to a tree 
and shot to death; after which he gave orders for 
the village, consisting of two hundred houses, to 
be pillaged, burnt, and razed to the ground. 

" The town of Cabriers still remained: but they 
surrounded the walls, and were proceeding to bat- 
ter it down with cannon shot. Sixty peasants, who 
were shut up within the town, probably having un- 
dertaken to defend it, gave them to understand, 
that it was unnecessary to be at the pains of batter- 
ing down the walls, since they were ready to open 
the gates to them, and to leave the country and go 
to Geneva, or into Germany, with their wives and 
children, leaving every thing behind them, if a safe 
passage should be granted them. The Lord of 
Cabriers interceded in their behalf; but Opede, 
getting within the city, ordered the men to be con- 
veyed into a meadow, where he caused them to be 
hewn in pieces by the sword, the murderous execu- 
8 



86 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



tioners amusing themselves at the same time by try- 
ing their dexterity in cutting off their heads, arms, 
and legs. The females he ordered to be shut up 
in a barn, which was then filled with straw and set 
on fire, when they were all consumed, many of them 
being in a state of pregnacy. On searching the 
town, many of the inhabitants were found secreted 
in vaults and caverns ; but they were brought into 
the hall of the castle, and barbarously massacred in 
the presence of Opede. The women and children 
who had taken refuge in the temple (probably a 
place of worship) were exposed to the ruffians of 
Avignon, who slew about 800, without distinction 
of age or sex. Many of the inhabitants of Merin- 
dol and other places, foreseeing the evil, had be- 
taken themselves to flight; but they were now pur- 
sued by Opede and his army over rocks and moun- 
tains, and forced to great extremities and distress. 
When overtaken, they supplicated that they might 
be permitted to retire to Geneva with their wives 
and children; but the monster answered, that he 
would send them, with their wives and children, to 
dwell with the devils in the infernal regions, so as 
to blot out the very memory of them from the face 
of the earth."* 



* See History of the Waldenses, by William Jones ; a 
work in the highest degree creditable to the industry and 
talents of its Author. 

The recent persecution of the French Protestants, 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



87 



Lo ! stalking from a murky cave, 
And pointing to a new-made grave, 
Crown'd with a garland steep'd in tears, 
The Monster, Bigotry, appears ! 

At his approach, with instant dread, 
We bless our friends already dead, 
And hail the tomb for ever blest, 
Where weary souls' securely rest. 

Offspring of hell, and death's ally ! 
Thy music is the orphan's cry; 
The widow's blighted heart thy feast, 
Thine agent the cold-blooded priest. 

The nation's annals thou hast stain'd, 
The feeling heart, how deeply pain'd ! 
But thou, destroyer, shalt be slain, 
And freedom reign on earth again. 

The controversy respecting the Supper of our 
Lord was at this time renewed. Osiander, a vain 



which has disgraced the Nineteenth Century, and which 
the ecclesiastical historian will not fail to put upon record, 
having excited the sympathy of the Protestant Dissenting 
Ministers of the three denominations in London and its vi- 
cinity, collections have, by their means, been made in the 
metropolis, and various parts of the kingdom, amounting 
to six thousand two hundred p&unds, the greater part of 
which has been transmitted to the pastors of the French 
Protestant Churches. Several letters have been received 
from the French Protestants, acknowledging the seasona- 
ble relief thus afforded, and expressing a conviction that 
the conduct of their British friends had interposed a shield 
between them and their enemies. 



88 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



and proud man, of an ardent spirit, having rekhv 
died the fire of discord, which seemed entirely ex- 
tinguished, Calvin did all in his power to terminate 
this difference, and with this view wrote several 
letters. Osiander refused to listen to the wise 
counsels of Calvin and of Melancthon ; but the salu- 
tary work of calming the commotions which had 
long continued between the Lutherans and the Re- 
formed, concerning the eucharist, " seemed to be 
facilitated by the theological system that was adopt- 
ed by John Calvin, a native of Noyon, in France, 
who was pastor and professor of divinity at Ge- 
neva, and whose genius, learning, eloquence, and 
talents, rendered him respectable, even in the eyes 
of his enemies. This great man, whose particular 
friendship for Melancthon was an incidental circum- 
stance highly favourable to the intended reconcilia- 
tion, proposed an explication of the point in debate, 
that modified the crude hypothesis of Zuingle, and 
made use of all his credit and authority among the 
Swiss, and more particularly at Zurich, where he 
was held in the highest veneration, in order to ob- 
tain their assent to it. The explication he proposed 
was not indeed favourable to the doctrine of Christ's 
bodily presence in the eucharist, which he persisted 
in denying: he supposed, however, that a certain 
divine virtue or efficacy was communicated by 
Christ, with the bread and wine, to those who ap- 
proached this holy sacrament with a lively faith, 
and with upright hearts; and to render this notion 
still more satisfactory, he expressed it in almost the 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



89 



same terms which the Lutherans employed in incul- 
cating their doctrines."* 

A Genevese of the name of Troillet, who, though 
young, was consummately artful, after having 
counterfeited the hermit in France, returned to 
Geneva. As Calvin was remarkable for his pene- 
tration into characters, he soon developed this man, 
notwithstanding the pains which he took to conceal 
his vices under false appearances. Calvin at first 
reproved him privately with great mildness; huf 
finding that his charitable counsels were useless to 
him, and that his audacity and his insolence in- 
creased daily, he undertook to reprove him pub-* 
licly. But this hypocrite, far from profiting by 
these reproofs, endeavoured to avail himself of the 
protection of those, whose vices Calvin was accus- 
tomed to condemn. One of the pastors having re- 
cently died, he had the effrontery to aim at succeed- 
ing him. Calvin opposed him; and having shewn 
the contrariety of such conduct to the word of God, 
he obtained, by permission of the council, the en- 
forcement of the rules of the church. 

There were also at this time certain persons, who, 
having renounced the Protestant faith through 
dread of persecution, flattered themselves that there 
was no harm in remaining in the external commu- 
nion of the church of Rome, provided they em- 
braced the true religion in their hearts. And be- 
cause Calvin, who condemned so pernicious a seii- 



* Mosheim's History of the Reformed Church* 

8* 



90 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



timent, was considered by them as carrying his se- 
verity to an extreme, he shewed clearly that his 
opinion was in unison, not only with those of the 
fathers of the church, but also with the doctrine of 
the most learned theologians of the age, such as 
Melancthon, Bucer, and Martyr, as well as the mi- 
nisters of Zurich; and so completely extinguished 
that error, that all pious persons censured the Nico- 
demites ; a name given to those who defended their 
dissimulation by the example of Nicodemus. 

The introduction of the following letter, in illus- 
tration of the solicitude of Calvin for the purity of 
the reformed worship, needs no apology. The 
justness of the sentiments, the perspicuity of the 
reasoning, and especially the veneration which it 
discovers for the illustrious character to whom it 
was addressed, must recommend it to the approba- 
tion of every intelligent Protestant. 

" To the truly excellent Doctor of the Christian 
" Church, MARTIN LUTHER. 

a My highly honoured Father in Jesus Christ, 

" Finding those Frenchmen who had been re- 
stored from the darkness of Popery to the light of 
the true doctrine made no alteration in their con- 
fession of faith ; but that they continued to sully 
themselves with the profanations of the papists, 
as if they had no relish for the true doctrine; 1 
could not refrain from reproving such extreme 
stupidity, with that vehemence and asperity which 
I believe they deserved. For can we call that 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



91 



faith, which, buried at the bottom of the soul, ne- 
ver discovers itself by any confession ? Or ought 
we to call that religion, which disguises itself un- 
der the mask of idolatry ? — I do not here under- 
take a thorough discussion of the question : I 
have already explained myself sufficiently in two 
small works which I have composed on that topic. 
And if you will take the trouble to glance at them, 
you will better understand my opinion on that 
question, and upon what reasons it is founded. 
Some persons who previously slept in great secu- 
rity, buried in profound slumbers, being roused 
by the perusal of them, have begun to consider 
what they ought to do. But because it is very 
hard to the flesh, either to neglect its own inte- 
rests, so far as to endanger life ; or so to irritate 
the minds of others as to become the object of 
public hatred; or to abandon our property and 
our country, and thus to condemn ourselves to a 
voluntary banishment; it happens but too fre- 
quently that these difficulties prevent a constant 
and firm resolution. They allege also other rea- 
sons, which indeed appear plausible, but which, 
however, prove sufficiently, that their sole design 
is only to seek pretexts to conceal the irresolution 
which agitates their minds. They desire to have 
your judgment, for which they entertain a just ve- 
neration, and which will have great weight to de- 
liver them from these uncertainties, and to confirm 
them in their duty. They have, therefore, en- 
treated me to send you an express, which may 



92 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



bring back your conclusion on this subject. This 
office I could by no means refuse to their solicita- 
tion, both because I thought it important for them 
to be upheld by your authority, that they might 
not ever float in these uncertainties, and that I my- 
self felt disposed to solicit this help. Thus, my 
highly honoured Father in the Lord, I conjure 
you by Jesus Christ, to bear with this importunity, 
both for their sakes and mine ; and to read for 
your entertainment, in your leisure hours, the let- 
ter addressed to you in their name, and my two 
small books ; or to employ somebody to read 
them, who shall report the principal particulars to 
you; and to take the trouble in the second place 
to explain to us in an answer of three words, your 
opinion on this subject. It is contrary to my in- 
clination to divert you from those great and vari- 
ous affairs which occupy you, and to give you this 
trouble. But I am firmly persuaded that accord- 
ing to your uniform equity, seeing that necessity 
urges me to make this request, you will easily for- 
give the liberty I take, and the trouble which I 
give you. Would to God that I were permitted 
to fly hence, that I might enjoy, at least for a few 
hours, your conversation! I should receive much 
more pleasure, and it would be much more advan- 
tageous to confer with you personally on this, and 
on various other subjects. But I hope, that what 
may not be granted to us on earth, will soon be 
given to us in the kingdom of God. Adieu, most 
illustrious man ! most excellent minister of Jesus 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



93 



Christ, and my highly honoured Father. I beseech 
the Lord to govern you by his Spirit unto the end, 
for the common good and edification of his 
church."* 

" 20th Jan. 1545. 

The vigour with which Calvin attacked the vi- 
cious and their vices, brought upon him a thousand 
inconveniences from those who exposed themselves 
to the effects of his zeal and vigilance. A wo- 
man, whom he had reproved publicly, called him 
a wicked man. Calvin avenged himself by obtain- 
ing her pardon of the council, who had imprisoned, 
and intended to punish her. 

The following year proved no less unfavourable 
to Calvin's repose. He was now obliged to cheer 
the drooping spirits of the Genevese, whom the 
designs of Charles V. against the reformed reli- 
gion had alarmed. But, besides the cares which 
the fear of all those evils occasioned him, he was 
deeply afflicted at the state of Geneva, and the ge- 
neral and daring profligacy of its inhabitants. 

At the head of these persons, was a man named 
Ami Perrin, who, by the suffrages of the people, 
had been made capitaine general. This man, 
knowing that neither his accomplices nor himself 
could thrive whilst the laws were maintained with 
vigour, and Calvin thundered against their vices 



* Institution de la Religion Christienne. Traduit par 
Charles Icard. p. 145. 



94 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



and their disorders, discovered this year what 
he had long projected ; and because his perni- 
cious designs were no sooner developed than they 
were crushed by the seigneurs, he remained some 
time quiet; but this was only with a view to a 
more public attack; for shortly afterwards, one 
of the seigneurs, instigated, as it has been sup- 
posed, by two ministers who were given to wine, 
and who had good reasons to fear the severity of 
the laws, accused Calvin of teaching false doc- 
trine. But, far from being injured by the malice 
of his enemies, he was fully justified from this ca- 
lumny, his accuser being condemned as infamous, 
and the two ministers deposed.* 

While Calvin was called to contend against 
those whose love of independence, and whose vio- 
lent passions removed them far from decency and 
virtue, which he wished to establish in Geneva, 
he triumphed over their cabal by his firmness 
and his courage; nor did he ever favour those 
whom rank and fortune seemed to authorize to 
follow their inclinations. He summoned the wife 
of a principal citizen before the Consistory for 
having blasphemed in a private house; she was 
condemned to a pecuniary punishment. Ami Per- 



* " In the year 1546, Perrin and his followers had plot- 
ted to murder in one night all the French refugees ; but 
the conspirators were detected, prevented, and punished." 
— The Church History of Geneva, by the Rev. A. Le 

Merrier, 1732. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



95 



rin himself, whose life was very disorderly, was 
excommunicated, deprived of his place of counsel- 
lor, and condemned to two months' imprisonment; 
but, although this man had always encouraged the 
enemies of Calvin, and been the cause of all the 
troubles which he had experienced from the go- 
vernment, Calvin, nevertheless, employed his elo- 
quence and his interest to procure the repeal of 
his sentence, and had the Christian satisfaction to 
see his mortal enemy released from prison, and re- 
stored to his employment. 

Germany was at this time reduced to the great- 
est extremity; her towns having either surren- 
dered to the emperor, or been taken by force, she 
beheld the sudden ruin of a work, which had been 
the labour of many years. Happy, indeed, were 
they whom death prevented from being spectators 
of that dreadful desolation. It is not to be doubted 
that these calamities deeply afflicted Calvin, since 
it is certain that when the churches enjoyed a pro*- 
found peace, he took as great an interest in those 
that were most remote, as if they had been com- 
mitted to his care. Besides which, it was impos- 
sible for him to learn that those illustrious charac- 
ters, Melancthon, Bucer, and Martyr, his dearest 
friends, were exposed to the most imminent pe- 
rils, without being penetrated with the profoundest 
grief. Great, however, as were his afflictions, he 
supported them with heroic courage, and though 
persecuted by the wicked, his constancy and his 
virtue remained unshaken. 



96 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



In the year 1547, and on the 26th of July, 
Jacques Gruet was beheaded. Gruet was one of 
those men whom vice and public disorders render 
famous : impatient under the restraints of the laws, 
he had the audacity to affix against the pulpit of 
the cathedral, a libel against the reformed Gene- 
vese, and particularly the reformers and minis- 
ters. Being immediately apprehended, and his 
papers and letters examined, they were found to 
contain several violent passages against Calvin; 
as well as a petition which he wished to present to 
the General Council against the ecclesiastical dis- 
cipline, the object of which was to suppress the 
bounds which it imposed upon those who led a 
vicious life. A paper was also found containing 
objections against the authority of the sacred 
books, the spirituality and immortality of the soul, 
and the last judgment. His sentence condemns 
him for having spoken with contempt of religion ; 
for having maintained that laws, human and di- 
vine, were the work of caprice ; for having written 
impious letters and licentious songs ; for having 
maintained that fornication was not criminal, when 
both parties consented ; for,, having attempted to 
overthrow the ecclesiastical institutions, and the 
authority of the Consistory ; for having threatened 
the reformers and the ministers ; for having spoken 
disrespectfully of them, and particularly of Calvin; 
for having written letters calculated to irritate the 
court of France against Calvin; and to engage the 
King of France to write to the council against 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



97 



him ; and finally for having threatened the counci 
itself. The reasons of this condemnation, judging 
from the sentence itself, demonstrate that the death 
of Gruet was the effect of his impiety, and of his 
threats against the government. 

During these troubles, Calvin composed a work 
entitled L' 'Antidote, against the doctrine contained 
in the first seven sections of the Council of Trent : 
aud wrote also to the church of Rouen, to fortify 
her against the artifices and the errors of a certain 
monk of the order of St. Francis, who was endea- 
vouring to infect that church with the heresy of 
Carpoerates.* 

Undiverted by these foreign cares, he continued 
his ordinary occupations, and composed his excel- 
lent Commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul. 
As many persons entertained a high opinion of 
judicial astrology, he justly exposed it in an ele- 
gant work which he published on the subject. 
Having received an obliging letter from Brentius, 
who was exiled at Basil, he consoled him with 
much tenderness. And it were to be wished, that 
Brentius had ever preserved the sentiments which 
he expressed at that time, and had not broken the 
bonds which attached him to Calvin. He also 



* Carpocrates was a heretic of the second century, 
who flourished at Alexandria about the year 130. He 
revived the Gnostic heresy, to which he added the anti- 
nomian doctrine, that actions are indifferent, as the pas- 
sions are planted in human nature by God himself. His 
son Epiphanius taught the same opinions. — Mosheim* 
9 



98 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



wrote to Bucer, who was in England, and after 
exhorting him to avow more openly his opinion on 
the Supper of the Lord, he renewed the assurances 
of a sincere and ardent friendship. To the Duke 
of Somerset, Protector of England, he sent such 
useful and important advice, as, had it been fol- 
lowed, would have saved the British church from 
many calamities. 

The church of Geneva, though surrounded by 
afflictions, increased rapidly; and Calvin received, 
with every mark of tenderness, those who were ba- 
nished from their country on account of their at- 
tachment to the gospel. God, likewise, so emi- 
nently blessed the labours of his servant, that the 
faction of the seditious was almost entirely sub- 
dued. He stood, indeed, in great need of this re- 
lief; for he now met with a severe trial in the loss 
of his wife, a person of singular virtue and merit. 
But though extremely affected by this affliction, he 
endured it with a constancy and resignation be- 
coming his exalted character. 

In the year 154S, the celebrated Beza, accom- 
panied by his friend John Crispin, settled at Ge- 
neva. Upon his arrival, he embraced the reforma- 
tion, and publicly espoused the person to whom he 
had long been attached : influenced by gratitude, 
he soon after visited his respected master, Wolmar. 

He had no sooner returned to Geneva, than the 
senate of Bern appointed him professor of Greek, 
in the academy of Lausanne, where he composed, 
in French verse, a drama, entitled Abraham sacri- 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



99 



fiant, which procured him considerable reputation. 
At the request of the French refugees, he explained 
the epistle to the Romans, and those of Peter ; at 
the same period, he projected the edition of the 
New Testament, which he presented to the public 
in the year 1566. 

At the pressing solicitation of Calvin, Beza un- 
dertook to finish the work of Marot upon the 
Psalms, and to translate into French verse, those 
which the poet had left unfinished. This underta- 
king he executed with success : the French churches 
adopted them universally, and they were printed 
with the permission of the King of France, in 1561. 

The occupations of this laborious man were not 
always equally useful or honourable to himself: in 
1554, he published a book, De Hceriticis a Magis- 
trate, gladio jtuniendis, in answer to Faustus Soci- 
nus, and especially to Sebastian Castalio, who had, 
in the year 1554, printed a work, entitled De Hcc- 
riticis gladio non puniendis. Castalio had, in this 
work, urged some of the principal arguments in 
favour of tolerance ; the fate of Servetus induced 
him to write that work, to which Christian Charity 
affixed her seal. Beza's apology for the council 
of Geneva, in the affair of Servetus, was strictly in 
unison with the spirit which predominated through- 
out Europe : Let us, however, congratulate our- 
selves upon being born in an age in which intoler- 
ance is become revolting, and its apology a mark 
of infamy. 

J3eza was employed, in the year 1558, with Fa- 



100 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



rel and Jean Bude, to solicit the protestant princes 
of Germany to use their intercession with the King 
of France, in behalf of those Frenchmen who had 
embraced the reformation, and who were at that 
time cruelly persecuted. It was on this occasion 
that the Genevese theologian enjoyed the satis- 
faction of meeting at Francfort, the pious, the 
amiable Melancthon. 

On his return, Calvin persuaded Beza to apply 
for his release to the senate of Bern, who reluc- 
tantly complied with his request. Beza imme- 
diately repaired to Geneva, in order to cultivate 
the society of his friend, whose wisdom and pru- 
dence he closely copied. With a view to attach so 
useful a person to the republic, the council pre- 
sented him with his freedom, in the month of April, 
1559. In the month of May, he was admitted one 
of the pastors ; and in June, appointed professor of 
theology, and principal of the academy which had 
been recently founded. 

Held in the highest cpnsideration throughout 
Europe, some French noblemen endeavoured to 
attract him to the court of the King of Navarre, 
with a view to his disseminating the principles of 
the reformation there: the Prince of Conde, and 
the King of Navarre himself, applied to the Coun- 
cil of Geneva to spare him. He departed, and was 
received with respect by those exalted characters, 
who, while they honoured religion, reflected the 
highest honour upon themselves ; and who believed 
they were contributing most effectually to the ^hap- 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



101 



piness of the people, by diffusing among them that 
truth, the value of which they had themselves ex- 
perienced. 

From some of Beza's letters to Calvin, it ap- 
pears that he met with a very nattering reception 
from the King of Navarre, and the Prince of Con- 
de ; he observes also, that Catharine talked to him 
with interest about Calvin, his afflictions, and his 
works. Beza displayed a noble courage in inform- 
ing that princess of the cruelties exercised against 
the protestants ; he had even a conversation at St. 
Germains, on the 23d of August, with the Cardinal 
de Lorraine, in the queen's apartment, which ap- 
peared to justify the warmest hopes of an amicable 
re-union; they were, however, lamentably disap- 
pointed at the conference of Poiss} 7 , which was 
opened on the 4th of September, by a French dis- 
course pronounced by Beza, and which was uni- 
versally admired. 

Endowed eminently with a public spirit, and 
supplied with that persevering energy which sur- 
mounts all obstacles, the valuable life of Beza 
ranked high among his contemporaries as a public 
bussing ; and secured for him an imperishable 
monument in the gratitude of posterity. At the 
advanced age of eighty-six, he terminated with se- 
renity and confidence, a life of piety and of faith, 
and entered into the joy of his Lord.* 



* The testimony of a Catholic Historian to the talentp 
of Beza, is too important to be omitted. " It cannot be 
9* 



102 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



The churches of Saxony, not being united res- 
pecting the nature and use of indifferent things, 
consulted Calvin, who frankly gave his opinion 
on the subject ; and as Melanctbou was accused 
(though unjustly) of too much indifference on this 
subject, he wrote to him respecting it. 

While God was on the one hand chastising the 
German churches with the scourge of discord, he 
manifested his compassion to the churches of Swit- 
zerland; for Calvin and Farel having made a visit 
to Zurich, composed all the differences which had 
arisen among them on the subject of the Sacra- 
ments. Articles were agreed upon by the consent 
of the churches of Switzerland, and those of the 
Grisons ; and this agreement united the church of 
•Zurich and that of Geneva in the closest bonds. 

About this time Calvin wrote two letters, replete 
with profound erudition, to Lcelius Socinus ; who 
died at Zurich, after a long residence there.* 



denied but Beza was a man of fine parts : he was a ready, 
subtil, pleasant and polite man ; he knew the world ; 
spake with abundance of readiness ; and had a great 
memory, and a good deal of learning." — Du Pin. 

* " Lcelius Socinus was born at Sienna, in 1525, and 
designed by his father for the profession of the law : but 
having embraced the principles of the reformation, he 
deemed it expedient to quit Italy in 1547- After passing 
through several countries, he settled at Zurich, where he 
was suspected of Arianism, and received a remonstrance 
from Calvin on the subject. Socinus profited by the hint, 
but more by the fate of Servetus, and retired to Poland ; 
from thence he went to Venice, and afterwards returned 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



103 



The year 1550 was remarkable for the tran- 
quillity which the churches enjoyed, and the re- 
gulations which were made at Geneva. For the 
Consistory came to a resolution, that the minis- 
ters should not confine their instructions to public 
preaching, but that at certain seasons of the year, 
they should visit private families, accompanied by 
an elder, to explain the Christian doctrines, and 
induce individuals to give an account of their faith. 
These private visits were so useful to the church, 
that it is not easy to calculate the fruit which they 
produced. 

The Consistory gave directions also, that the 
celebration of the birth of Christ should be de- 
ferred until a few days after Christmas; and that 
no days should be observed but Sunday. And 
because these changes offended many persons, 
Calvin wrote a piece on the subject, which he ad- 
dressed to his old and faithful friend, Lauren de 
Normandie. 

The following year was not so happy as the 
two preceding ; for, besides the death of Bucer, 
and that of Jacques Vadian, Consul of St. Gal, 
persons of singular virtue and profound erudi- 



to Zurich, where he died in 1562. He was the author of 
the sect of Socinians, having gathered many followers 
who embraced his opinions, which were, that Christ was 
only a man, that the Holy Spirit is nothing more than an 
attribute, and that the doctrines of original sin, atonement, 
and divine grace, have no foundation in scripture."— 
Bayle* 



104 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



tion, which deeply afflicted Calvin and the whole 
church; the faction of the seditious, which had 
been long silent, revived suddenly, and occasioned 
inconceivable evils and disorders; for they not 
only asserted, that, the right of citizenship ought 
not to be bestowed upon strangers, who took re- 
fuge in Geneva ; but, in order to affront Calvin, 
having met him in the street as he was returning 
from preaching, they forced him into the middle 
of the road, and attempted to throw Raimond, his 
colleague, over the bridge of the Rhone. They 
afterwards excited a tumult at the church of St. 
Gervais, because the minister (following a rule 
which had been made on sufficient grounds) had 
refused to give the name of Baltazar to a child 
whom they had brought for baptism. 

Calvin, not being able to remedy these evils-, 
bore them with Christian resignation and invinci- 
ble patience. 

But farther troubles awaited Geneva; the im- 
mediate cause of which was a man, named Hie- 
rome Bolzec, who, having quitted the habit, re- 
tained the spirit and the inclinations of a monk. 
This man, after having affronted the Duehesse de 
Ferrare, was banished from her court; and ha- 
ving taken the degree of doctor of medicine, re- 
tired to Geneva. But, not succeeding in the pro- 
fession which he had embraced, he aspired to the 
reputation of a celebrated theologian. With this 
view he corrupted the doctrine of predestination, 
by a false and absurd dogma, which he was bold 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



105 



enough to maintain in the public congregation. 
Calvin endeavoured, at first, with all possible mild- 
ness, to shew him his mistakes, and, by private 
conversation, to recover him from his errors. 

On the 15th of August, Bolzec publicly assert- 
ed his sentiments in reply to a sermon which had 
been preached on the subject of predestination. 
His confidence was increased, by supposing Cal- 
vin to be absent, as he did not see him in his usual 
place; for as the service was commenced when he 
arrived, he remained amongst the crowd. No 
sooner had Bolzec concluded his discourse, than 
Calvin arose ; and though he spoke without pre- 
meditation, he excited the esteem and admiration 
of all who heard him ; for he alleged so many 
passages of scripture, and so many testimonies 
from St. Austin ; refuted him by so many unan- 
swerable reasons, and convicted him with so much 
force and evidence, that notwithstanding the ef- 
frontery of this unfrocked monk, he was covered 
with confusion. A magistrate present ordered him 
to be sent to prison, and he was afterwards brought 
to trial. Jacques de Bourgogne interceded for 
him. Bolzec appealed to the judgment of the 
neighbouring churches ; he was afterwards ordered 
to be set at liberty upon finding security; but not 
procuring any, he remained in prison, and was 
finally banished on the 18th of December. 

Bolzec retired to a neighbouring town, where 
he caused great disturbances ; and having been 
twice driven from the canton of Bern, he repaired 



106 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



to France, and there used all his efforts to obtain 
the charge of the ministry, expressing a sincere 
repentance, and an anxious desire to be reconciled 
with the church of Geneva. But persecution being 
again revived in France, he resumed the study of 
medicine, and renouncing the protestant religion, 
became a catholic. 

The ministers of Geneva, in a public assembly, 
having illustrated and established the doctrine of 
predestination, approved of the work which Calvin 
had written on the subject. But though the min- 
isters of the principal churches unitedly inculcated 
the doctrine, there were not wanting some in the 
canton of Bern, who said that Calvin made God 
the author of sin, notwithstanding this impious 
sentiment had been clearly refuted by Calvin, in 
a book which he had written expressly against the 
libertines. 

Castalio was at this time teaching Pelagianism 
at Basil, though he attempted to disguise his ob- 
ject under the most specious appearances. This 
controversy continued several years, in the course 
of which the hermit, already mentioned, opposed 
Calvin. Unable to procure an appointment to the 
ministerial office, he had embraced the profession 
of the law, and was become the advocate of the 
seditious. Finding himself supported by the pro- 
fligate, he requested a public dispute with Calvin 
before the council, where the subject was debated 
with considerable warmth. But as Calvin rested 
his sentiments upon the authority of reason and of 



LIFE OF CALVIJN. 



107 



scripture, and his adversary was armed with im- 
pudence alone, the issue of the dispute was emi- 
nently favourable to our reformer: the truth tri- 
umphed over error, and the writings of Calvin 
were recognized as orthodox by the suffrages of 
those who had condemned him. 

Retiring from the sanguinary measures of Queen 
Mary, John Knox, the Elijah of the North, as he 
has been justly called, repaired to Geneva. "The 
celebrated Calvin, who was then in the zenith of 
his reputation and usefulness, had completed the 
ecclesiastical establishment of that city ; and, ha- 
ving surmounted the opposition raised by those 
who envied his authority, or disliked his system of 
doctrine and discipline, was securely seated in the 
affections of the citizens. His writings were al- 
ready translated into the different languages of Eu- 
rope ; and Geneva was thronged with strangers 
from Germany, France, Poland, Hungary, and 
even from Spain and Italy, who came to consult 
him about the advancement of the Reformation, or 
to find shelter from the persecutions to which 
they were exposed in their native countries. Cal- 
vin was respected by none more than by the Pro- 
testants of England; and at the desire of Arch- 
bishop Cranmer, he had imparted to the Protector 
Somerset, and to Edward VI. his advice as to the 
best method of advancing the Reformation in that 
kingdom. Knox was affectionately received by him 
as a refugee from England ; and an intimate friend- 
ship was soon formed between them, which sub- 



108 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



sisted until the death of Calvin in 1564. They 
were nearly of the same age; and there was a 
striking similarity in their sentiments and in the 
more prominent features of their character. The 
Genevan Reformer was highly pleased with the 
piety and talents of Knox ; who, in his turn, enter- 
tained a greater esteem and deference for Calvin 
than for any other of the Reformers."* 

Shortly after the ascension of Elizabeth to the 
throne, Knox returned to England, where he was 
not unmindful of his countrymen ; he had the ad- 
dress to fix the Scots reformation upon a solid ba- 
sis, by means of the treaty of Leith, concluded in 
the month of July 1560. He even succeeded in 
establishing an ecclesiastical discipline, similar to 
that which prevailed in Geneva; and the superin- 
tendence of the reformed religion throughout the 
district of Edinburgh was committed to his care. 

This eminent Scotsman died at Edinburgh in 
1572, and was interred with great ceremony. The 
Earl of Morton, who attended his funeral, pro- 
nounced the following eulogium upon him :— 
There lies He who never feared the face of man. 

" Knox bore a striking resemblance to Luther 
in personal intrepidity, and in popular eloquence. 
He approached nearest to Calvin in his religious 
sentiments, in the severity of his manners, and in 
a certain impressive air of melancholy which per- 



* Life of John Knox. By Thomas M'Crie, D. D. 
p. 261. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



109 



vaded his character. And he resembled Zuinglius 
in his ardent attachment to the principles of civil 
li berty, and in combining his exertions for the re- 
formation of the church with uniform endeavours 
to improve the political state of the people. Not 
that I would place our reformer on a level with 
this illustrious triumvirate. There is a splendour 
which surrounds the great German Reformer, 
partly arising from the intrinsic heroism of his 
character, and partly reflected from the interest- 
ing situation in which his long and doubtful strug- 
gle with the court of Rome placed him in the eyes 
of Europe, which removes him at a distance from 
all who started in the same glorious career. The 
Genevan Reformer surpassed Knox in the extent 
of his theological learning, and in the unrivalled 
solidity and clearness of his judgment. And the 
Reformer of Switzerland, though inferior to him 
in masculine elocution, and in daring courage, 
excelled him in self-command, in prudence, and 
in that species of eloquence which steals into the 
heart, which persuades without irritating, and go- 
verns without assuming the tone of authority. 

" But, although ' he attained not to the first 
three,' I know not, among all the eminent men 
who appeared at that period, any name which is 
so well entitled to be placed next to theirs as that 
of Knox, whether we consider the talents with 
which he was endowed, or the important services 
which he performed." — L. of Knox, p. 161. 



10 



110 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



CHAP. III. 

An Examination of the Reformers Conduct in the 
affair of Servetus. 

WE are now arrived at a most delicate part of 
the history of this illustrious reformer ; the part 
which he confessedly took in the punishment of 
Servetus. 

The history of Servetus, so often referred to, 
and so little understood, merits the minute atten- 
tion of all who are sufficiently impartial to weigh 
the opposing interests and circumstances which 
mark this tragical transaction. The blemishes, 
real or pretended, of the reformer, having been 
maliciously employed to discredit the Reformation 
itself, it becomes of no small importance to eluci- 
date this point of history, and to clear Calvin 
from the injurious imputations which have been 
falsely thrown upon him. 

It has been confidently pretended, and boldly 
asserted, that Calvin had, through life, nourished 
an implacable hatred against Servetus, and that 
the Genevese theologian had employed all his ef- 
forts to satiate it in the blood of the unhappy Spa- 
niard; that he denounced him to the magistrates 
of Vienne, and occasioned him to be arrested on 
the day after his arrival at Geneva. Things ad- 
vanced with an air of confidence are readily be- 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



Ill 



lieved, and it is scarcely suspected that they may 
be false. Bolzec, however, the mortal enemy of 
Calvin, who wrote the life of that illustrious man 
merely to blast his memory, and who was contem- 
porary with the facts which he relates ; and Maim- 
bourg, equally known by his partialities and his 
falsehoods, have never dared to advance those 
things which modern historians have not been 
ashamed to risk. Bolzec says, that Servetus quit- 
ted Lyons to establish himself at Charlieu, be- 
cause " his pride, his insolence, and the danger of 
his projects, made him equally feared and hated." 
He adds, that " Servetus returned to Lyons ; that 
he entered into a correspondence with Calvin ; 
that he communicated to him his ideas ; that Calvin 
combated them with force, and that Servetus per- 
sisted in them with obstinacy ; that he sent him 
his work entitled Restitutio Christianismi, which 
he printed at that time; and that Calvin, indig- 
nant, declined all aquaintance with him."* 

It is evident that Calvin did not betray the se- 



* " Restitutio Christianismi, hoc est totius ecclesise apos- 
tolicae ad sua limina vocatio : in integrum restituta cogni- 
tione Dei, fidei Christiana?, justifications nostra?, Regene- 
rations, Baptismi, et Ccense Domini manducationis ; res- 
tituto denique nobis regno coelesti, Babylonis impia cap- 
tivitate soluto, et anti-christo cum suis penitus destructo." 
— This book is extremely scarce; all the copies were 
burned at Vienne and Frankfort : it has been long doubted 
whether there were any remaining ; but it appears cer- 
tain that Doctor Mead possessed a copy, which found its 
way into the library of the Duke de la Valiere. 



112 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



cret of Servetus, and that he did not occasion his 
arrest at Vienne, since he wrote to Viret and to 
Farel, that, if that heretic came to Geneva, he 
would take care that he should be capitally punished. 

The ideas of Calvin included in this revolting 
sentence, were the ideas of all persons and of all 
sects : they constituted the spirit of the laws, and 
of the public administration of the times. 

Disputes are frequently the source of intole- 
rance ; we easily learn to hate those who try to 
convince us that we are wrong: this was not, 
however, the case with Calvin; he bore with Ser- 
vetus as long as there was any hope of reclaim- 
ing him. Servetus began with employing injuri- 
ous expressions of the grossest kind. It is cer- 
tain that he had rendered himself odious to all who 
knew him, and that the ideas of most persons 
agreed with those of Calvin on the punishment 
which he merited. It is evident, from the letters 
of Farel and of Viret, that they did not blame the 
conduct of Calvin in this affair. Bucer was not 
ashamed to write that " Servetus deserved some- 
thing worse than death." The excellent, the gen- 
tle Melancthon, approved the punishment of Ser- 
vetus. Writing to Calvin, he remarks: " In my 
opinion, your magistrates have acted justly, in 
putting to death a blasphemer, convicted by due 
process of law." The opinion of Melancthon on 
this subject is farther expressed in a letter to Bul- 
linger : — " I have read your statement respecting 
the blasphemy of Servetus, and praise your piety 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



113 



and judgment; and am persuaded that the Coun- 
cil of Geneva has done right in putting to death 
this obstinate man, who would never have ceased 
his blasphemies. I am astonished that any one 
can be found to disapprove of this proceeding; 
but I have transmitted you a few papers which 
will sufficiently explain our sentiments."* Farel 
expressly says, that " Servetus deserved a capital 
punishment." And Beza defended the sentence, 
All these celebrated men entertained the same 
opinion on the subject; and as no personal hatred 
of Servetus can be imputed to them, it is at least 
as unjust to accuse Calvin of it. 

But Calvin, it is said, abused the confidence of 
Servetus; he sent to Vienne the letters which he 
had received from him, to which he added his 
work entitled Restitutio Christianismi, of which 
Servetus had made him a present. This accusa- 
tion is mysterious : is it to be believed that Cal- 
vin, whose name was execrated in all catholic 
countries, could expect from their magistrates any 
attentions to his complaints, or any regard to his 
letters ? 

The extreme improbability of the correspon- 
dence here alluded to, may be inferred from the 
character of the individual to whom Calvin is 
said to have applied. " All historians agree 
in representing Cardinal Tournon to us as the 



* Life of Melancthon, by F. A. Cox, A. M. 2d edit. 
10* 



114 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



scourge of heresy. He caused the severest edicts 
to be published against the innovators. He esta- 
blished at Paris a fiery court (Chambre Ardenie), 
which was properly an inquisition, and ordered all 
the tribunals of the kingdom to prosecute the new 
errors as crimes against the State. The fury of 
his zeal transported him so far, that he caused all 
the heretics to be burned who had the misfortune to 
fall into his hands. Behold the man they want to 
make a correspondent of Calvin by letters! What- 
ever wickedness they would load him with, they 
must suppose him a perfect blockhead to attempt 
such a correspondence by a criminal accusation 
of his enemy; as it would appear by the loud fits 
of laughter they make the cardinal fall into, upon 
receiving this letter. 

" But, supposing that this reformer had been 
capable of such extravagant folly, how can we 
imagine that the cardinal, ' this scourge of heresy,' 
would have satisfied himself with laughing at this 
affair ? That he made himself merry with the ac- 
cuser, needs not surprise us; but that he neglected 
to prosecute such a heretic as Servetus, we cannot 
so easily be persuaded of. Thus Calvin himself 
gives no other reason in answer to the calumny 
we are refuting, as we shall see by his own words, 
that the calumny came originally from Servetus; 
and that Bolzec knew nothing of the matter, but 
from uncertain reports. ' I have no occasion,' 
says Calvin, 1 to insist longer to answer such a 
frivolous calumny, which falls to the ground, when 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



115 



I shall have said, in one word, that there is nothing 
in it. It is four years since Servetus forged this 
fable upon me, and made the report travel from 
Venice to Padua, where they made use of it ac- 
cording to their fancy; I don't dispute, however, 
if it was by deliberate malice he had forged such 
lies to bring the hatred of many upon me, or 
whether fear made him suspicious : only I demand 
how it could happen, that since the time I disco- 
vered him, he has lived three years in the sight 
of his enemies, w ithout being disquieted, or speak- 
ing one word about it to him; certainly either 
those who complain of me must confess, that it has 
been falsely invented, or that their martyr, Serve- 
tus, has had more favour from the papists than I; 
if this had been objected to me with justice, and 
that I had published it in order to have him pu- 
nished by any person whatsoever, I would not have 
denied it, and 1 don't think it could have turned to 
my dishonour.' This I am confident is sufficient to 
satisfy reasonable men : above all, if we add to it, 
what Calvin had said immediately before the pas- 
sage I have cited : — ' A report flies about that I 
had endeavoured to have had Servetus apprehended 
in a popish country, viz. at Vienne ; upon which 
a great many say, that I have not behaved discreetly 
in exposing him to the mortal enemies of the faith, 
as if I had thrown him in the jaws of w olves ; but 
I pray you, from whence so suddenly this private 
dealing with the Pope's satellites ? It is very credi- 
ble, indeed, that we should correspond together by 



116 



MEMOIRS 6T THE 



letters, and that those who agree with me, as well 
as Belial agrees with Jesus Christ, should enter 
into a plot with such a mortal enemy, as with their 
own companion.'" 

But, supposing Calvin could have been capable 
of such an absurdity, is it to be imagined that he 
could have kept silence during seven years ; that 
he would not have persecuted him sooner ; that he 
would not have sent to the places where Servetus 
resided the letters which he had received, and the 
work which he possessed ? It is evident, however, 
that Calvin had corresponded with Servetus seven 
years ; and the famous letter of Calvin, which 
Uttembogaert saw in the library of the King of 
France, shews that Calvin was then perfectly ac- 
quainted with his character, and that he had seen 
his famous work : — " Servetus lately wrote to me, 
and accompanied his letter with a large volume of 
his extravagant opinions, with a hectoring boast, 
that I should see extraordinary and unheard-of 
things, if I were willing he would come hither; 
but I was unwilling to give my promise ; for if he 
should come, I would use my authority in such a 
manner as not to suffer him to depart alive."* 
This letter is dated in February 1546 ; Calvin evi- 



* " Servetus nuper ad me seripsit, et litteris adjunxit 
magnum volumen suorum deliriorum cum thrasonica jac- 
tantia me stupenda ac inaudita visurum : si mihi placeat, 
hue se venturum recipit ; sed nolo fidem meam inter- 
ponere; nam si venerit, modd valeat mea autoritas, vivum 
«xire nunquam patiar." 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



117 



dently refers to the work entitled Restitutio Chris- 
iianismi : he plainly discovers his judgment of it, 
and of the punishment which he thought its author 
deserved ; but it is equally evident that he was 
very far from engaging him to come to Geneva, 
and that he had forewarned him of what he might 
expect to meet with, if he should have the temerity 
to appear in that city. It is, therefore, evident, 
that if Calvin endeavoured to keep Servetus from 
Geneva to induce him to avoid the punishment 
with which he threatened him, he could not possi- 
bly think of inflicting it upon him elsewhere, 
which would have been attended with considerable 
difficulty, if not absolutely impossible. 

But what end could Calvin's letters to the ma- 
gistrates of Vienne have answered ? Calvin was 
assured that Servetus was known to be the author 
of the work entitled Restitutio Christianismi, since 
it bore the name of Villanovanus. Servetus was 
well known by this name : it was, therefore, use- 
less for Calvin to send them intelligence which was 
public : neither was it more necessary for him to 
inform them what that book contained ; a single 
perusal evinced it. It would have been absurd in 
Calvin to send them a copy of the work, since it 
had been printed in France, under their own eyes ; 
so that it is difficult to imagine the possibility of 
the conduct of Calvin in this affair being what his 
enemies have represented it. 

Farther ; the sentence pronounced at Vienne 
against Servetus, takes no notice of any interpo- 



118 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



sition on the part of Calvin : it condemns Servetus 
for his printed work, on the report of the Doctors 
in Theology consulted on the occasion ; on the 
ground of the errors contained in that work ; and, 
finally, on the confessions of that unhappy man. 
It is true that the magistrates of Vienne, having 
learned that Servetus corresponded with Calvin, 
demanded his letters with all writings relating to 
him ; but the demand was made to the Council of 
Geneva, who complied with their request. From 
these circumstances it appears that Calvin had no 
share in sending the letters of Servetus, and that 
they had no influence upon the decision of Vienne, 
as no mention is made of them. 

Happily, those persons who take pleasure in ca- 
lumniating others, seldom consider all the circum- 
stances of the facts which they wish to impose, 
but discover the imposture by the impossibility of 
harmonizing what they invent, with what is real. 
Thus the report that Calvin, instructed of the es- 
cape of Servetus from the prison of Vienne, caused 
him to be arrested two or three days after his arri- 
val at Geneva, stands self-corrected ; as it is cer- 
tain that he left Vienne before the execution of the 
sentence which condemned him to be burnt in effigy 
on the 17th of June: supposing him to have been 
a fortnight in reaching Geneva, he must have ar- 
rived there in the beginning of July, at the latest : 
he was not, however, arrested until the 13th of Au- 
gust. It is absurd to say that he concealed him- 
self in other places ; for to what other places could 



LIF£ OF CALVrX. 



119 



he have gone ? His safety required him to quit 
those in which the Romish religion was established, 
lest the clamours of Vienne should have reached 
them ; and Geneva was the first place in which he 
could hope for an asylum. It is therefore evident 
that Servetus, far from having been arrested upon 
his arrival at Geneva, must have resided there at 
least six weeks. 

The laws of Geneva requiring that the accuser 
and the accused should enter the prison together, 
Calvin directed the process to be made by Nicolas 
de la Fontaine, his secretary, and a student in the- 
ology. Calvin confesses that this was done with 
his knowledge. De la Fontaine made himself a 
prisoner, requiring the detention of Servetus, and 
produced forty articles upon which he demanded 
that Servetus should be examined. Servetus was 
shortly afterwards found guilty. The lieuienant- 
crimina) undertook the process at the instance of 
the procureur-general, and the student was liber- 
ated. 

The principal accusations exhibited against Ser- 
vetus were, First, his having asserted in his Ptole- 
mee, that the Bible celebrated improperly the fer- 
tility of the land of Canaan, whilst it was unfruit- 
ful and barren. Secondly, his having called one 
God in three persons a Cerberus, a three-headed 
monster. Thirdly, his having taught that God was 
all, and that all was God. Servetus did not deny 
the truth of the principal accusations, but whilst 
in prison called the Trinity a Cerberus, a three- 



120 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



headed monster; he also grossly insulted Cal- 
vin, and was so fearful that death would be the 
punishment of heresy at Geneva, as well as at 
other places, that he presented a petition on the 
22d of August, in which he defended the cause of 
ignorance, and urged the necessity of toleration : 
the procureur-general replied to him in about eight 
days, and no doubt did it very ill. Servetus was 
condemned upon extracts from his books, De Tri- 
nitatis Erroribus, and In Ptolemceum Commentari- 
us ; from the edition of the Bible which he had pub- 
lished in 1552 ; from his book Restitutio Christian- 
ismi; and from a letter which he had written to 
Abel Paupin, a minister of Geneva.* 



* A copy of the sentence pronounced against Servetus 
will not be uninteresting to the reader. " We Syndics, 
judges of all criminal causes in this city, having witnessed 
the process made and instituted against you, on the part 
of our lieutenant in the aforesaid causes, instituted against 
you, Michel de Villeneuve, in the kingdom of Arragon, in 
Spain, in which your voluntary confessions in our hands, 
made and often reiterated, and the books before us pro- 
duced, plainly shew that you, Servetus. have published 
false and heretical doctrines ; and also despising all re- 
monstrances and corrections, have, with a perverse incli- 
nation, sown and divulged them in a book published 
against God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ; in 
sum, against all the true foundations of the Christian Re- 
ligion, and have thereby tried to introduce trouble and 
schism into the Church of God, by which many souls 
may have been ruined and lost, things horrible, frightful, 
scandalous, and infectious, and have not been ashamed to 
set yourself in array against the Divine Majesty and the 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



121 



The enemies of Calvin exulted in this affair, 
and, for once, with the appearance of reason : but 
their efforts injured the cause of Servetus ; they 
endeavoured to bring him before the Council of 
Two Hundred, in which, however, they did not 
succeed. 

The Council of Vienne claimed Servetus, who, 
being left at liberty to return to his ancient judges, 
preferred the chance of a more favourable judg- 
ment at Geneva, to the certainty of suffering the 
capital punishment pronounced against him at 
Vienne, where he had been condemned to be 
burned. 



Holy Trinity; but rather have obstinately employed your- 
self in infecting the world witli your heresies, and stinkino- 
heretical poison ; a case and crime of heresy grievous and 
detestable, and deserving of corporal punishment. For 
these and other just reasons moving us. and being desirous 
to purge the church of God from such infection, and to cut 
off from it so rotten a member, having had good participa- 
tion of counsel with our citizens, and having invoked the 
name of God that we may make a right judgment, sitting 
upon the tribunal of our predecessors, having God and the 
Holy Scriptures before our eyes, saying in the name of 
the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, by that 
definitive sentence, which we here give by this writing, 
you Michael Servetus, are condemned to be bound and 
led to Champel, and there fastened to a stake and burned 
alive with your book written with your hand, and printed, 
until your body shall be reduced to ashes, and your days 
thus finished as an example to others who might commit 
the same things ; and we command you our lieutenant to 
put this our sentence into execution. Read by the seig- 
neur syndic D'Arlord. 75 

11 



122 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



To the Council of Geneva justice ought to be 
done with respect to this transaction, though we 
may blame the principles of its jurisprudence : 
they neglected nothing to discover the truth: they 
multiplied their interrogatories; they employed 
all possible means to make Servetus retract; and, 
as they experienced the inutility of these measures, 
they wrote to the reformed Swiss cantons for their 
advice. Is it credible? they were unanimous in 
exhorting the council to punish the wicked man, 
and to put it out of his power to increase heresy. 
If Calvin may be supposed to have influenced the 
Council of Geneva, shall he domineer at his plea- 
sure over four councils of four different states, and 
all the persons who were consulted by them in 
forming their judgments ? Shall the fury imputed 
to him render so many magistrates cruel, whom 
he had never known ? It must be confessed, that 
the intolerant spirit of the age dictated the sen- 
tence of Servetus at Geneva; but, it is not equally 
evident that Calvin was the author of that atro- 
city, and that he laboured with ardour to accom- 
plish it. 

On the 27th of October, Servetus was condemned 
to be burnt alive ; and the sentence was executed 
on the same day. 

Some general observations on the conduct of 
the Council, and that of Calvin, may serve to si- 
lence those persons who are disposed to fancy 
themselves considerable, because they have calum- 
niated a state, and a great man. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



123 



In the first place, let it be remembered that the 
fate of Servetus was approved by the majority of 
celebrated ecclesiastics amongst the reformed of 
those times ; and that those who are not mentioned, 
did not think of blaming it : it was also sanctioned 
by the churches of Switzerland, who even recom- 
mended it. Let it be farther remarked, that Casr 
talio, the avowed enemy of Calvin, was the only 
person who had the courage to espouse the cause 
of Servetus, and of the heretics, in a Dissertation, 
in which it is considered, " By what right, or with 
what advantage, heretics may be restrained, or ca- 
pitally punished." And let it be observed, he was 
afraid to put his name to it, though he resided at 
Basil, and therefore took the name of Bellius. 
From this circumstance it is evident, that the doc- 
trine which he so properly defended was generally 
condemned by the public tribunals, and that it ex- 
posed its defenders to severe penalties. 

It had long been the custom at Geneva to pro- 
ceed with violence against heretics: In the year 
1536, several persons were deprived of their free- 
dom who did not embrace the received doctrine; 
from the year 1541, the Consistory possessed the 
right of forcing the magistrates and the people to 
continue faithful to the holy doctrine, and to ob- 
serve good morals. In 1558, Gentilis escaped 
death only by retraction, though it was known to 
be feigned ; and Calvin, in a letter which he wrote 
at that time, observed, " Servetus, by a recanta- 
tion, might have averted his punishment : I would 



124 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



have it attested that my hostility was not so deadly; 
but that by humility alone, had he not been de- 
prived of his senses, he might have saved his life ; 
but I know not how to account for his conduct 
without supposing him to have been seized with a 
fatal insanity, and to have plunged himself head- 
long into rum." * From this fragment it appears 
that Servetus might have retracted; that Calvin 
wished him to do it ; that he was grieved that the 
retraction was not made : it is also evident that the 
Council furnished him with occasions of so doing; 
that they descended to theological conversations, 
in which they endeavoured to instruct him; but he 
persisted in defending his opinions in a blasphe- 
mous manner; so that if Servetus was condemned, 
it was because he was not afraid of exposing 
himself to it, since he was acquainted with the ex- 
istence of the laws which threatened him, and, in- 
dependently of those laws, could not have been 
brought to trial; but, as the Council could not 
violate them to absolve him, neither could they 
change them to mitigate his punishment; these 
laws equally opposed the desire of the Council to 
commute the punishment into banishment, and the 
efforts of Calvin to render it less cruel. 

The civil and ecclesiastical jurisprudence of 

* " Mutando mentem pcenas a se avertere potuisset 
Servetus : hoc testatum volo me non ita capitaliter infes- 
tum quin licitum fuerit vel sola modestia, nisi mente pri- 
vatus foret, vitam redimere ; sed nescio quod dicam, nisi 
fatali vesania fuisse correptum, et se preeipitem jaceret." 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



125 



the tribunals with respect to heresy, was undoubt- 
edly grossly inconsistent with the spirit of Chris- 
tianity, and the principles of equity. But if we 
could transport ourselves into that age, and con- 
template the circumstances in which Calvin was 
placed, divesting our minds of prejudice, we should 
no doubt perceive that the sentence was that of the 
civil judges, and that they strictly followed the 
ordinary course of the law; that Calvin followed 
the judgment of all the ecclesiastics of his time, and 
complied with the sanguinary laws of every coun- 
try in Europe against heretics. 

It cannot, however, be denied, that in this in- 
stance Calvin acted contrary to the benignant spi- 
rit of the gospel. It is belter to drop a tear over 
the inconsistency of human nature, and to bewail 
those infirmities which cannot be justified. He 
declares that he acted conscientiously, and publicly 
justified the act. Cranmer acted the same part 
towards the poor Anabaptists in the reign of Ed- 
ward VI. This doctrine they had learnt at Rome, 
and it is certain, that, with a very few exceptions, 
it was at this time the opinion of all parties.* The 

* The author of the Memoirs of Literature says, " If 
the religion of Protestants depended on the doctrine and 
conduct of the Reformers, he should take care how he 
published his account of Servetus ; but as the Protestant 
Religion is entirely founded on Holy Scripture, so the de- 
faults of the Reformers ought not to have any ill influ- 
ence on the reformation. The doctrine of non-toleration, 
which obtained in the sixteenth century, among some 
Protestants, was that pernicious error which they had 
imbibed in the Church of Rome ; and, I believe, I can 
11* 



126 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



apostles John and James would have called down 
fire from heaven; Calvin and Cranmer kindled it 
on earth. This, however, is the only fault alleged 
against Calvin; but " Let him that is without sin 
cast the first stone." 

" It ought, however," says a sensible writer, " to 
be acknowledged, that persecution for religious 
principles was not at that time peculiar to any 
party of Christians, but common to all, whenever 
they were invested with civil power. It was a de- 
testable error; but it was the error of the age. 
They looked upon heresy in the same light as we 
look upon those crimes which are inimical to the 
peace of civil society; and, accordingly, proceeded 
to punish heretics by the sword of the civil magis- 
trate. If Socinians did not persecute their adver- 
saries so much as Trinitarians, it was because they 
were not equally invested with the power of doing so. 
Mr. Lindsay acknowledges, that Faustus Socinus 
himself was not free from persecution in the case of 
Francis David, superintendant of the Unitarian 
Churches in Transylvania. David had disputed 
with Socinus on the invocation of Christ, and died 



say, without doing any injury to that church, that she is, 
in a great measure, answerable for the execution of Ser- 
vetus. If the Roman Catholics had never put any per- 
son to death for the sake of religion, I dare say that Ser- 
vetus had never been condemned to die in any Protestant 
city. Let us remember, that Calvin, and all the magis- 
trates of Geneva in the year 1553, were born and bred 
up in the Church of Rome : this is the best apology that 
can be made for them." — Biographia Evangelica, vol. Mr 
p. 42. 



V 

\ 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



127 



in prison in consequence of his opinion, and some 
offence taken at his supposed indiscreet propaga- 
tion of it from the pulpit. " I wish I could say," 
adds Mr. Lindsay, " that Socinus, or his friend 
Blandrata, had done all in their power to prevent 
his commitment, or procure his release afterwards." 
The difference between Socinus and David was 
very slight. They both held Christ to be a mere 
man. The former, however, was for praying to 
him; which the latter, with much greater consis- 
tency, disapproved. Considering this, the perse- 
cution to which Socinus was accessary was as 
great as that of Calvin ; and there is no reason to 
think, but that if David had differed as much from 
Socinus as Servetus did from Calvin, and if the 
civil magistrates had been for burning him, Soci- 
nus would have concurred with them. To this it 
might be added, that the conduct of Socinus was 
marked with disingenuity : in that he considered 
the opinion of David in no very heinous point of 
light; but was afraid of increasing the odium un- 
der which he and his party already lay, among 
other Christian churches. 

It was the opinion, that erroneous religious prin- 
ciples are punishable by the civil magistrate, that did 
the mischief, whether at Geneva, in Transylvania, 
or in Britain; and to this, rather than to Trinita- 
rianism, or to Unitarianism, it ought to be im- 
puted.* 



* See Calvinistic and Socinan Systems examined and 
compared, by Andrew Fuller, 2d edit. p. 146. 



128 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



CHAP. IV. 

Calvin's Intrepidity in refusing the Sacrament to 
Bertelier — Persecution of Far el — Calvin's Be- 
haviour to the Persecuted Protestants- — Charac- 
ter of Gentilis — Reflections on Intolerance — 
Calvin the means of founding a College. 

BERTELIER, a man of an abandoned charac- 
ter, having been suspended from the communion of 
the Church, petitioned the Seigneurs to terminate 
his suspension. In conseo A uence of the clamours of 
those who maintained that the Consistory usurped 
the authority of the magistrates, the Council grant- 
ed him permission to communicate. 

Perrin and his faction pleased themselves with 
the expectation that Calvin would either disobey 
the orders of the Seigneurs, and thus be treated as 
a criminal against the state ; or that if he obeyed, 
the authority of the Consistory, which repressed 
their disorders, might be easily overthrown : but 
Calvin, having received notice of this resolution 
two days before the administration of the Supper, 
discovered the most intrepid courage on the Sun- 
day following ; when, after having preached with 
energy against those who despised the sacred mys- 
teries, "I will," declared he, " imitate the example 
of St. Chrysostom ; and, like him, rather expose 
myself to death, than give holy things to the pro- 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



129 



lane, who have been declared unworthy to partake 
of the body of Jesus Christ." Wicked and unruly 
as were the enemies of Calvin, these words had 
such effect upon them, that Perrin sent some one 
secretly to Bertelier, to desire him not to approach 
the table of the Lord, and they partook of the holy 
mysteries in the most devout and edifying manner. 

Leaving Calvin to his repose, these seditious 
persons tamed their rage against Farel. Having 
visited Geneva, and thinking that his age, and the 
important services which he had rendered to the 
Church, might give him considerable authority, 
he censured them severely in one of his sermons. 
But they complained loudly that Farel had done 
them a serious injury, and he was no sooner re- 
turned to his church, than they procured him to be 
cited to Geneva, to give an account of his conduct. 

Farel, in complying with this order, exposed 
himself to considerable danger ; for the faction 
was extremely incensed against him, and threat- 
ened to throw him into the Rhone; but a bold and 
courageous young man having warned Perrin, that 
if Farel, the common Father of the city, suffered 
any ill treatment, his person should no longer be 
safe ; and others well disposed having joined him, 
the seditious were so dismayed, that they asked 
pardon for their behaviour; after which Farel, 
having received audience, was fully justified. 

This year proved, upon the whole, propitious to 
the church ; the principal thing, however, which 
atllicted it was the death of Edward. King of Eng- 



130 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



land, a prince of extraordinary virtue and piety, 
universally lamented by the whole reformed world. 
The troubles of Geneva did not, however, hinder 
Calvin from prosecuting his studies ; for it was in 
the midst of these confusions that he composed his 
Commentary on St. John. 

Calvin was at this time occupied with the care 
of the numerous strangers who had been obliged to 
quit England ; some of whom had retired to Vezel, 
others to Embden, and the rest to Francfort, and 
who all frequently solicited his advice. 

The great labours in which he was engaged for 
the interests of the church, appear in the number 
of letters which he wrote to different princes, to in- 
duce them to embrace the Reformation ; and to the 
persecuted Protestants, to exhort them to suffer 
death courageously, with which they were threat- 
ened ; and to others, to support their confinements 
and chains with constancy. 

The harmony which, after much contention, pre- 
vailed on the subject of the Supper of the Lord, 
was now interrupted by Joachin Vestphal, who 
having sounded the tocsin, was followed by Hesh- 
usius, who was afterwards made a bishop. This 
obliged Calvin to publish a work on the subject, 
which, whilst it mortified his enemies, proved highly 
useful and acceptable to the friends of truth. 

The destruction of the faction which had so long 
annoyed our reformer, was accelerated by the dis- 
closure of a conspiracy against the state, made by 
some drunkards concerned in it ; in consequence of 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



131 



which, some were condemned to a capital punish- 
ment, and others quitted the city. 

These troubles being appeased, Calvin was not 
left without occasion for the exercise of his virtue, 
as he took great pains to promote the establishment 
of the churches of Poland : and England was af- 
flicted with a most cruel persecution, in which ma- 
ny persons were put to death, and amongst others, 
those glorious martyrs and illustrious bishops, John 
Hooper, Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, and 
Thomas Cranmer. Archbishop of Canterbury. The 
afflictions of England affected him deeply : he also 
did his utmost to comfort his brethren who were 
persecuted in France, and to inspire with Christian 
courage the five generous martyrs who were burned 
at Cambray. 

Matthieu Gribald, a celebrated lawyer, who had 
revived the opinions of Servetus at Geneva, having 
escaped from Tubingue, was taken at Bern, and 
after renouncing his heresies, in order to escape 
the danger which threatened him, he was no sooner 
set at liberty than he openly supported Gentilis, of 
whom an account will be given in its place. He 
afterwards died of the plague, which probably 
spared him an ignominious death. 

In the neighbourhood of Geneva arose a faction 
composed of ministers, who were extremely bitter 
against Calvin, and who acted under the influence 
of Bolzec. These persons, though of infamous 
characters, thinking to acquire reputation by at- 
tacking so illustrious and formidable an adversary, 



132 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



accused him of making God the author of sin. 
These calumnies not being new, Calvin at first 
despised them, but being compelled at length to 
justify himself, he solicited permission to repair to 
Bern, accompanied by envoys from the republic, 
and to maintain the cause of truth there. This be- 
ing consented to, he acquitted himself with such 
complete success, that Castalio and Bolzec were 
banished with infamy from the territory of Bern. 

Shortly after his return from Bern, he was at- 
tacked with a tertian fever, which seized him while 
he was preaching, and obliged him to leave the 
pulpit. This circumstance gave rise to many false 
reports, which were so acceptable to the Roman 
Catholics, that those of Noyon made a solemn pro- 
cession, to return thanks to God for the death of 
Calvin. This was certainly one of the least suspi- 
cious eulogies of Calvin, and shews, the enemies 
themselves being judges, his importance in the 
cause of the Reformation. In the month of August 
in this year, Calvin set out for Francfort, with the 
design of terminating the troubles which the dis- 
putes about the Lord's Supper had given rise to 
there. The Council thought it necessary to send 
a guard with him. 

The zeal of Calvin was certainly not a " zeal 
without innovation for according to a Catholic 
historian, " he wrote also two letters into France, 
to confirm those of his party in their errors, and 
to oblige them to separate entirely from the church ; 
one of them directed to Nicholas Charminius, is 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



133 



an exhortation to avoid idolatry, and the other, to 
Gerard Roussel, lately made Bishop of Oleron, is 
against the Popish priesthood. 

" He also condemns more severely than the Lu- 
iherans do, the invocation of saints, the worship 
and use of images, vows, celibacy of priests, fasting", 
holy days, and the sacrifice of the mass, the adora- 
tion of the eucharist, indulgences, the sacraments, 
except the eucharist and baptism, and in general 
all the rites and ceremonies of the church, which 
the Lutherans had not quite taken away."* 

Having returned to Geneva, though he found 
himself indisposed, he did not, however, remit his 
usual labours, but continued his Commentary on 
the Psalms, which he gave to the public the year 
following, accompanied with an admirable preface. 
He also undertook to defend the truth against 
Westphal. 

Speaking of Geneva in the year 1555, De Thou 
observes, that " there was a tumult during the night, 
which was excited by some members of the coun- 
cil, who had resolved, with those of their faction, 
to usurp absolute authority. They could not bear 
John Calvin, of Noyon, who had for several years 
taught in their town ; and they hated principally 
those persons who, on account of religion, had 
come from France to Geneva to escape persecu- 
tion ; they were especially indignant that a consi- 
derable proportion of them had been admitted into 



* Du Pin. 
12 



134 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



the rank of citizens; from whence it followed, that 
in the degree in which one party was augmented, 
the strength of the other was diminished. They 
therefore made use of the following artifice in order 
to expel them. During the night they ran about 
in all directions, and began at the same time to cry 
aloud in different places, as if the signal had been 
given that the French were under arms, and that 
they were about to deliver up the city : but as the 
French kept close in their houses, the people, 
whom the conspirators hoped to induce to take 
arms, remained quiet also, and thus their artifice 
produced no effect.* 

The news of the dreadful persecution of the Pro- 
testants in Paris deeply affected Calvin. Having 
assembled for the purpose of celebrating the Lord's 
Supper, they were discovered, when eighty of them 
were seized ; the greatest part of whom were im- 
prisoned, after being charged with various injuries, 
and cruelly treated; amongst whom were several 
ladies of the first quality. The courtiers who in- 
fluenced the king, had awakened his anger against 
the Protestants, and raised this storm against them : 
besides which, the state of the kingdom was unfa- 
vourable to them ; for this affliction befel them 
soon after the French had been defeated at Saint 
Quintin ; on which account they assembled at night, 
not daring to meet in the day ; which gave rise to 
those idle tales which Demochares and their ene- 



* Histoire de I. A. De Thou, torn. II. liv. xvi. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



135 



mies published against them ; accusing them of the 
same crimes with which the Pagans endeavoured 
to blacken the first Christians. For besides pre- 
tending that the Protestants were the cause of all 
the afflictions of the state, they had procured false 
witnesses to testify, that after having extinguished 
the lamp which lighted them, they prostituted 
themselves to every kind of abomination : and 
notwithstanding the utter improbability of this re- 
port, there were not a few w r eak enough to give 
credit to it. 

But the rage of their enemies did not terminate 
here ; for twenty-one of these unhappy persons 
were condemned to be burnt alive. And as only 
seven of them were executed at a time, this dismal 
spectacle was exhibited to the public at three dif- 
ferent periods. The first who suffered this cruel 
punishment discovered the most admirable con- 
stancy, particularly a lady of quality, and two 
young men. 

This storm was at length appeased, either by the 
calumnies of their enemies being detected, or by 
the king's being influenced by the earnest interces- 
sion of the German ambassadors, whom Calvin 
had engaged to intercede for his brethren of that 
kingdom. 

Whilst France was thus agitated, the republic of 
Geneva happily contracted a perpetual alliance 
with that of Bern, contrary to the expectations of 
the exiles of that city ; but the joy which that al- 
liance afforded them was damped by several un- 



136 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



pleasant occurrences; for besides the re-kindling 
of persecution in France, the heresy of the Tri- 
theists was at this time revived by Valentin Gen- 
tilis. 

Shortly after the death of Servetus, Gentilis, a 
man possessed of an ardent and penetrating mind, 
though more subtle than solid, meeting with the 
work of Servetus, and Calvin's refutation of it, 
easily perceived that neither the ideas nor the spe- 
cious reasonings of Servetus to cover the heresy of 
Paul of Samosata ; nor the confusion of persons in 
the Trinity taught by Sabellius ; nor the sentiments 
of Arius, respecting the divinity of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, could be made to harmonize with the word 
of God. Perceiving farther, that what the Scrip- 
tures teach with regard to three persons in one es- 
sence, is above our conceptions ; instead of sub- 
mitting to the wisdom of God, he endeavoured to 
persuade himself that every truth must be necessa- 
rily intelligible. Having, therefore, attributed the 
principal authority, and as it were the monarchy, 
to the person of the Father, whom he called the 
only sovereign and independent God ; he consi- 
dered the essence of the divinity to be communi- 
cated to the other persons, in such a manner as to 
make not only three persons, but three distinct es- 
sences ; that is to say, three Gods eternal, almighty, 
and immense. To maintain this heresy, he per- 
verted the Scriptures, and the authority of the 
Council of Nice, of Ignatius, Tertullian, Ireneus, 
and Lactantius : and rejected all the orthodox di~ 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



137 



vines who have embraced the doctrine of the 
Council of Nice. 

At first he proposed his opinion privately, and 
amongst other persons, to Jean Paul Alciat Milan- 
ois, and to Georges Blandrata, a physician, pro- 
fessing only to examine the reasons which might 
support, and those which might overthrow it. But 
the Consistory of the Italian church, having been 
informed that this sentiment was spreading through- 
out the town, convoked an extraordinary assembly, 
at which, in the presence of a certain number of 
seigneurs chosen for the occasion, and of all the 
ministers and elders, the reasons alleged in support 
of that doctrine were refuted by Calvin; this con- 
ference induced all the Italians to sign the orthodox 
doctrine, with the exception of six, who shortly af- 
terwards, at the solicitation of their friends, signed 
it also, although they did not approve of it, which 
soon became evident. Valentin Gentilis at first 
refused to subscribe to the proposed formulary: 
he, however, complied afterwards, but continued 
to dogmatize against the received doctrine, on 
which account he was committed to prison, where 
he held a dispute with Calvin, on the 15th of July. 
Being convicted of perjury, and of voluntary here- 
sy, he was condemned to be beheaded. Having, 
however, abjured his heresies, his sentence was 
commuted for an ignominious punishment, to which 
he submitted on the 2d of September. 

When it is considered that the right of private 
judgment was the leading principle implied and 
12* 



138 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



acted upon in the Reformation, it is scarcely pos- 
sible to read these repeated instances of intole- 
rance without regretting the inconsistency of the 
Protestant churches. No privilege appears to 
have been more variously contested than that of 
the right of private judgment ; a privilege, founded 
in the nature and responsible circumstances of man, 
and recognized by the impartial spirit and high 
authority of Christianity. But the individual right, 
as well as the right of communities, is frequently 
claimed and acted upon by those who are prepared 
to resist the same claim when asserted by others, 
whom interest makes it convenient to oppose. To 
say that the reformers possessed this right, and 
were justified in emplo}dng it in the establishment 
of the Reformation, and that their Protestant 
brethren were not entitled to the same privilege, 
is an assumptiSn which no friend to religious li- 
berty can consistently allow. It is true that the 
Reformation had chiefly to do with the worship 
and discipline of the church, though not exclu- 
sively ; and that the heresies of the Protestants 
were doctrinal; but if the right of private judg- 
ment be allowed in one instance, it must be admit- 
ted in all ; since the New Testament knows of no 
limitation or exception, but considers every man 
as exclusively responsible to God, and rests the 
right and the exercise of it upon that responsi- 
bility. In unison with which principle, we must 
understand the words, " One is your master, even 
Christ" If there could possibly be any difference 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



139 



with respect to the importance of the exercise of 
the right, it must apply to doctrinal subjects, which 
on account of their extensive importance, require 
the utmost freedom of investigation, and the most 
unbiassed determination; but though the applica- 
tion of the right is in these circumstances pre-emi- 
nently important, the right itself is independent of 
any considerations of a comparative nature. The 
denial of the exercise of this rational and Christian 
right, seconded by influence sufficient to prevent it, 
would necessarily have the effect of throwing us 
back again into the darkness and barbarity of the 
middle ages. With the Papists, an opposition to 
this privilege was part of a policy by which a cor- 
rupt hierarchy was long supported. This princi- 
ple, enforced by secular authority and superstitious 
awe, would have rendered the Reformation impos- 
sible. A slight acquaintance with the history of 
persecution might be sufficient to teach its abettors 
not only its incompetency to enforce conviction, 
but its uniform tendency to strengthen opposition, 
and confirm prejudices. But it should seem that 
there is connected with the act of persecution a 
certain undefinable pleasure, which is at once the 
luxury and reproach of a bigoted and malignant 
mind. The real ground of persecution, whatever 
specious forms it may assume, is the native depra- 
vity of human nature; in decidedly wicked cha- 
racters, it selects for its object vital Christianity; 
but where it unhappily obtains amongst religious 
persons, it must certainly be ascribed to ill-regu- 



140 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



lated zeal, and a mistaken apprehension of the ge- 
nius of Christianity. 

Calvin, being convinced that the best method to 
preserve the purity of religion was to enlighten 
men's understandings, used his utmost exertions to 
found a college, in which youth might be well 
instructed. In the year 1556, he proposed the es- 
tablishment of one; but foreign affairs prevented 
the Council from attending to the object at that 
time. At length, in the year 1559, he had the 
satisfaction of seeing his wishes accomplished ; a 
college being founded, and furnished with enlight- 
ened teachers : an academy was also erected, which 
acquired the esteem of foreigners by the celebrity 
of its professors. 

Some authors have asserted that the academy 
was founded by Charles IV. — a circumstance in 
the highest degree improbable, since it does not 
possess the power of conferring degrees. La Fay 
speaks thus of it in his life of Beza : — " A while 
after I was called (saith he) to the ministry of the 
church, in the room of Claudius Pontus, or du 
Pont, a very good man, and most faithful pastor 
in the church of Geneva, who from this transitory 
life had been called to that which is eternal, and 
withal was joined to Calvin in the professorship of 
divinity : and that very year was made the first 
Rector of the University, on the 5th of June 1559, 
when for the first and lucky time were read the 
laws of the university in a fine company of grave 
and learned persons. He pronounced then a most 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



141 



excellent oration concerning the usefulness of learn- 
ing, partly to encourage the scholars, and partly 
to confirm the magnificent Lords of Geneva to 
prosecute this so noble and laudable work begun 
by them : for although the city of Geneva was then 
almost drowned by an infinite number of difficul- 
ties both within and without, yet, by the persuasion 
of Mr. Calvin, a great personage, and of whom it 
is impossible to say too much good, they were en- 
couraged to think effectually of building a public 
college, and setting up a school, an ornament 
which the town had wanted till then, Calvin only 
teaching a few hearers before : so after they had 
built a very handsome, convenient, and spacious 
college, and after they had appointed an honoura- 
ble salary for the professors of singular learning, 
the school of Geneva became famous and useful."* 



* The Church History of Geneva. By the Rev. Mr. 
Andrew Le Mercier, 1732. 



H2 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



CHAP. V. 

Calvin presented with the Freedom of the City of 
Geneva — Revises and republishes his Institutes in 
Latin and in French — Replies to several Heretics 
— Though greatly afflicted by Disease, is unre- 
mitting in his Exertions — Is carried to the Church 
and receives the Sacrament from the Hands of 
Beza. 

IT is difficult to conceive that it was only in 
this year, 1559, that Calvin was presented with the 
freedom of the city. No citizen, however, had 
ever earned so well this honourable title as he had 
done by his services. 

Calvin was this year attacked with a quartan 
ague, which laid the foundation of his subsequent 
illness and death ; for though he recovered his 
health eight months afterwards, he was so much 
reduced as never again to be perfectly restored. 

During his illness, though his plrysicians and his 
friends conjured him to be careful of his health, 
and to remit his usual labours, he continued to dic- 
tate and to write several letters. And though so 
continually occupied that he could not fulfil all the 
duties of his charge, he used to remark that idle- 
ness was extremely irksome to him. It was at this 
time, however, that he revised and republished his 
Institutes, in Latin and in French ; and corrected 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



143 



his Commentary on Isaiah, in such a manner as to 
render it a new work. 

At this period, two .of the most powerful mo- 
narchs of Europe terminated their differences by 
an alliance. This peace would probably have been 
fatal to the Protestant churches, had not a divine 
Providence counteracted the designs of the Catho- 
lics, who had obtained an entire influence over 
Henry II. and who abused his compliance to ex- 
cite a persecution against the Protestants. With 
this view they induced that prince to publish seve- 
ral severe edicts against them, and to imprison 
some of the counsellors of the parliament of Paris, 
who were suspected of favouring their cause ; and 
inspired him with the design of destroying the 
.Yew Sect, — a name by which they were then 
called. 

But while the church was overwhelmed with 
consternation, and engaged in imploring divine 
succour with all imaginable ardour, Henry II. was 
mortally wounded at a tournament, by one of his 
captains of the guards ; who, by his orders, had a 
few days before arrested the counsellors ; this 
event changing the face of affairs, the reformed 
were delivered from a danger which appeared in- 
evitable. 

After the death of Henry II. Calvin was accused 
of having raised a conspiracy against Francis II. 
although he had disapproved of the enterprise, and 
employed his efforts to subdue it. 

Stancarus of Mantoiian began at this time to 



• 



144 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



teach, that Jesus Christ was mediator only with re- 
spect to his humanity, accusing those of Arianism. 
who thought him mediator , in respect of his divini- 
ty, and asserting that they made the Son less than 
the Father. Melancthon and Martyr wrote against 
this sentiment, and Calvin refuted it ; briefly fore- 
seeing at the same time, what afterwards happened, 
that to avoid the errors of Stancarus, many persons 
would be in danger of falling into those of the 
Tritheists ; he, therefore, expressly cautioned them 
to be upon their guard with respect to Blandrata 
and his party, and instructed them to maintain 
that Jesus Christ was mediator according to both 
his natures, without multiplying the divinity. 

The Vaudois of Bohemia having deputed two 
persons to wait upon Calvin, to ask his advice on 
several points of religion, he received them with 
great affability, answered all their questions, and 
exhorted them earnestly to join the reformed 
churches. 

After the death of Francis II. Charles IX. wrote, 
in 1561, to the Council of Geneva, to complain of 
their receiving into the town the enemies of France, 
and fostering those public disturbers. Calvin was 
accordingly summoned, with his colleagues, before 
the Council; and admitted that the pastors had 
sent into France several pious men, to regulate the 
churches there, which they had been solicited to do; 
but that they were too deeply occupied about the 
advancement of religion to be employed in sowing 
troubles in the kingdom ; and that he was ready, 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 145 

with his colleagues, to answer their accusers before 
the king. Charles acknowledged apparently the 
innocence of Calvin and his colleagues; for nothing 
farther was heard upon the subject. 

Soon afterwards, Calvin replied to Tileman 
Heshusius ; and published a w r ork shewing the 
blasphemies with which the work of Gentilis 3 
against the Creed of Athanasius, was filled. He 
also published at this time his work on Daniel, 
which he dedicated to the churches of France; 
and while in his Commentary he appears the in- 
terpreter of the prophet, in his dedicatory epistle 
he appears himself almost a prophet, predicting 
the tempests which were shortly to arise, though 
the conference then held at Poissy gave reason to 
expect the entire destruction of the Catholic reli- 
gion. 

The disputes in which Calvin was interested 
were not yet finished : in 1561, a fresh discussion 
arose between him and Baldwin, who had pub- 
lished, during the conference of Poissy, a book of 
Cassander's, under the title, De Officio pii ac pub- 
licce Tranquillitatis Vere amantis in hoc Religionis 
Studio, To this work Calvin replied ; a contro- 
versy ensued, in the course of which a warmth of 
temper was betrayed on both sides, which reflected 
no honour on the disputants, but which is far from 
being singular in theological controversies. 

Calvin was at this time exceedingly afflicted by 
the state of the Protestants in France ; for after 
having obtained an edict, which put an end to the 
13 



146 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



sufferings to which they .had been long exposed, 
and which granted them the free exercise of their 
religion, the artifices of their enemies succeeded in 
withdrawing the King of Navarre from the Pro- 
testant interest, and the Due de Guise had made a 
cruel slaughter in Vassi, and had begun a civil 
war which long desolated that kingdom. 

His disorders were now visibly increasing daily, 
and it was evident that he was making rapid ad- 
vances towards a better world. His afflictions, how- 
ever weighty, never dejected him. His usual duties 
of visiting the sick and afflicted, of preaching, and 
giving theological lectures, were punctually dis- 
charged ; and knowing that the churches of France 
were not only openly attacked, but secretly de- 
famed to the German princes, he drew up their 
confession of faith, which was presented to the 
Diet of Francfort. 

On the 19th of December, Calvin, being con- 
fined to his bed with the gout, and the wind having 
been unusually high for two days, made use of the 
following expressions to some friends present : " I 
have thought I heard an alarming noise all night, 
and I could not help thinking that it was occasioned 
by a great number of drums. I cannot understand 
it. We shall certainly soon hear of some important 
event. Let us beseech God to have pity upon his 
church." This was thought very remarkable, 
when soon after, by news brought from France, it 
appeared that on the same day a bloody battle was 
fought between the king's army, and that of the 
Prince of Conde. \ 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



147 



The disorders of Calvin, which were now rapidly 
on the increase, rendered his exertions at this pe- 
riod almost incredible ; for notwithstanding his re- 
duced state, he could never be induced to remit, in 
the slightest degree, his ordinary occupations. If 
at any time his weakness prevented his attendance 
upon his public duties, he never failed to dictate or 
write a great variety of letters, in answer to per- 
sons who consulted him from various parts of Eu- 
rope. Amongst his numerous avocations at this 
period, were the exhortations which he gave on the 
subject of the Holy Trinity; his answers to the 
deputies of the Synod of Lyons ; the Commenta- 
ries which he composed in French and in Latin, 
upon the Books of Moses ; as well as his Commen- 
tary upon the Book of Joshua, which he began 
this year, and finished a little before his death. 

The year 1564, when he entered on his eternal 
felicity, occasioned a deep and lasting grief to 
Geneva. On the second of February he delivered 
his last sermon, and on the same day, his last the- 
ological lecture. His asthma depriving him of the 
use of his voice, he abstained from all the functions 
of his charge. He was indeed sometimes carried 
to the congregation, but seldom spoke. 

In a letter which he wrote to the physicians of 
Montpellier, he gave an account of the maladies 
which his various labours of body and of mind had 
brought upon him. For, besides being of a dry 
and feeble temperament, and strongly inclined to 
consumption, he slept very unsoundly. During ten 



148 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



years at least he ate no dinner, taking no nourish- 
ment until supper-time. He was subject to a head- 
ach, the only remedy for which was fasting; on 
account of which he remained sometimes thirty-six 
hours without eating. He was also frequently at- 
tacked by the hemorrhoides, which were brought 
on partly by his efforts in preaching, and partly 
by the excessive use of aloes ; and five years before 
his death he was seized with a spitting of blood. 
He was no sooner cured of the quartan ague, than 
he was attacked by the gout ; he was afterwards 
afflicted with the cholic, and a few months before 
his death, with the stone. The physicians exhaust- 
ed their art upon him, and no man ever observed 
their instructions with more regularity. But as to 
what relates to the labours of the mind, he had so 
little respect to his health, that the most violent 
headachs never prevented his appearance in the 
pulpit in his turn. 

Afflicted, however, as he was by so many mala-? 
dies, he was never known to pronounce a word un- 
worthy of a Christian, or even of a man of con- 
stancy and courage. In his greatest agonies, lift- 
ing his eyes to heaven, he was accustomed only to 
repeat the words, " How long, O Lord I" When 
in health, he frequently made use of these words, 
with reference to the calamities of his brethren in 
Jesus Christ, whose afflictions were much more 
painful to him than his own. When importuned 
not to dictate or write, during his illness, " Would 
you," said he, " that when the kord comes, he 
should surprise me in idleness if" 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



149 



On the 10th of March, being dressed and seated 
before the table at which he was accustomed to 
write, he was visited by Beza and other friends : 
upon seeing them, he leaned his head upon one of 
his hands, apparently meditating, and addressed 
them in a low voice, but with a cheerful and open 
countenance ; saying, " I return you my thanks, 
my very dear brethren, for all the care you take of 
me ; I hope you will soon be relieved from it, and 
that in a fortnight I shall assist in your assembly 
for the last time : for I think that after that time, 
the Lord will remove me from this world, and 
raise me to his Paradise." 

On the 24th of March, he assisted at the Assem- 
bly as he had predicted ; and when it was con- 
cluded, he remarked, that God had given him some 
respite; and having taken up the New Testament, 
he read some of the marginal annotations, and 
asked his colleagues their opinions on what he 
had read ; for he had undertaken the revision and 
correction of those notes. 

Being fatigued with the exertions of the day, he 
was worse on the morrow. On the 27th, being 
carried to the Council, he walked, supported by 
two men, to the hall in which the seigneurs were 
assembled ; where, being uncovered, he thanked 
them for all the favours which he had received 
from them, and particularly for the proofs of affec- 
tion which they had shewn him in his last illness ; 
" For I feel," said he, M that I shall not again have 
the honour of appearing in this place." Having 
13* 



150 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



with much difficulty made this speech, he took his 
leave of them weeping. 

Though extremely reduced, he was carried to the 
church, on the second of April, when he heard the 
whole of the sermon, and received, from the hands 
of Beza, the Lord's Supper ; and feeble as was his 
voice, he joined in singing the psalms. His coun- 
tenance was so cheerful and serene, that the con- 
gregation were delighted with the sight of their 
pastor's great joy, and entire resignation. 

It is not easy to conceive a more interesting 
scene : on the one hand an illustrious reformer 
and venerable pastor, anticipating the resplendent 
crown of righteousness awaiting him; and though 
willing to abide in his earthly tabernacle for the 
sake of his beloved flock, having also a desire to 
depart and to be with Christ : — on the other hand, 
a devoted people, grateful to their spiritual bene- 
factor, for his laborious exertions and edifying ex- 
ample ; willing to resign him to the society of the 
blessed above, and thankful for his apparent meet- 
ness for it. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



151 



CHAP. VL 

Calvin's Will — His farewell Address to the Syndics 
— His Composure in the Prospect of Death — 
His Death — Burial — Epigram, and Character. 

THE will of the Genevan Reformer, made on 
the 25th of April, and which contains an epitome 
of his sentiments and experience, cannot fail to be 
interesting to the Reader, and is here inserted ver- 
batim. 

THE WILL OF JOHN CALVIN; 

" In the name of God. To all whom it may 
concern; be it known that in the year 1564, and 
on the 25th day of the month of April, I, Pierre 
Chenelat, citizen and sworn notary of Geneva, 
having been called in by John Calvin, minister of 
thcHvord of God, in the church of Geneva, and 
citizen of the said Geneva; who, being indisposed 
in body, but of sound and disposing mind, hath 
declared to me his wish to make his last will and 
testament; desiring me to write what he should 
dictate and pronounce ; which at his said request 
I have done, and written what he hath dictated to 
me, and pronounced word by word, without omit- 
ting or adding any thing thereto, according to 
what followeth. In the name of God, I, John 



152 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



Calvin, minister of the word of God, in the church 
of Geneva, finding myself so much reduced by va- 
rious maladies, that I cannot but think that God 
will shortly remove me out of this world, have or- 
dered to be made and written my testament, and 
declaration of my last will, in form and manner 
following : 

" First, I give thanks to God, that, taking pity 
on me, whom he hath created and placed in this 
world, he hath delivered me out of the thick dark- 
ness of idolatry, into which I was plunged; and 
hath brought me into the light of his gospel, and 
made me a partaker of the doctrine of salvation, 
whereof I was most unworthy. And he hath not 
only gently and graciously borne with my faults 
and sins, for which I deserved to be rejected of 
him and cast out, but hath vouchsafed to use my 
labours in preaching and publishing the truth of 
his gospel. And I declare it is my wish and in- 
tention to continue in the same faith and religion, 
having no other hope or refuge but in his gratui- 
tous adoption of me, upon which is founded all my 
salvation : embracing the grace which he has given 
me in Jesus Christ, and accepting the merit of his 
death and passion, that so all my sins may be bu- 
ried; and beseeching him so to wash and cleanse 
me in the blood of that great Redeemer which was 
shed for all poor shiners, that in his image I may 
appear before his face. I declare also, that, ac- 
cording to the measure of grace bestowed upon 
me, I have endeavoured to teach his word in its 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



153 



purity, as well in sermons as in writings, and en- 
deavoured faithfully to expound the Holy Scrip- 
tures : and that in all the disputes which I have 
had with the enemies of truth, I have never used 
either craftiness or sophistry, but have fairly main- 
tained the truth. But alas! my zeal, if it deserve 
the name, has been so cold and unworthy, that I 
feel myself highly indebted in all, and through all : 
and if it were not for his infinite bounty, all the 
zeal I have discovered would appear light as 
smoke, and the graces which he has bestowed 
upon me would only render me more guilty; so 
that my only refuge is, that He being the Father of 
mercy, I trust he will be and appear the Father of 
so miserable a sinner. Further, I desire that my 
body, after my decease, may be interred jn the 
customary manner, awaiting the day of a blessed 
resurrection. With respect to the property which 
God hath given me to dispose of, I name and ap- 
point as my only heir, my well-beloved brother An- 
tony Calvin; nominally leaving to him only the 
cup which I received from Monsieur de Varennes, 
begging him to be content therewith, which I am 
persuaded he will be; knowing that I have no other 
motive than that what little I leave may descend 
to his children. Further, I leave to the college 
ten crowns, and to the purse for poor strangers, 
the same sum. Also to Jane, daughter of Charles 
Castan, and of my half sister on the paternal side, 
the sum of ten crowns. Further, to Samuel and to 
John, sons of my said brother, my nephews, each 



154 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



forty crowns. And to my nieces, Ann, Susanua, 
and Dorothy, each thirty crowns. As to my ne- 
phew David, as he hath proved but light and tri- 
fling, 1 bequeath to him only twenty crowns, for 
chastisement. This is in sum, all the property 
which God hath given me, as far as I am able to 
ascertain it, in books, furniture, and other things. 
Should it, however, prove more, I desire it may 
be distributed between my nephews and nieces 
aforesaid, not excluding my nephew David, should 
God give him grace to be more circumspect. But, 
I believe that with respect to this, there will be no 
difficulty, especially when my debts are paid, which 
I have given in charge to my brother, upon whom I 
can depend; naming him executor of this testa- 
ment^ with Laurent de Normandie, giving them 
full power and authority to make an inventory of, 
and to sell my goods, to procure money, in order 
to comply with the contents hereof. Dated this 
25th of April, 1564. So be it. 

" John Calvin." 

" On the morrow, being the 26th day of April 
1564, the said John Calvin did also direct me to 
assemble Theodore de Beza, Raymond Chauvet, 
Michael Cop, Louis Enoch, Nicholas Colladon, 
Jacques de Bordes, ministers of the word of God 
in this church, and also Henry Scringer, professor 
of arts, all citizens of Geneva, in the presence of 
whom he hath declared, that he desired me to write, 
from his words, the said will in the form and words 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



155 



above : desiring me to read it in his presence, and 
that of the said witnesses, which I have also done 
word by word. This being done, he hath declared 
this to be his last will and testament, desiring that 
it might be faithfully observed. In further appro- 
bation of which, he hath requested the afore- 
named witnesses to subscribe it with me; which 
hath also been done on the day and year aforesaid, 
at Geneva, in the street called the Canons, "in his 
own house. In proof of which, I have affixed the 
common seal of our highly honoured seigneurs 
and superiors, and my seal manuei as customaiy. 

(Signed) "P. Chenelat.' 3 

" It was thus that Calvin, when the shades of 
death began to thicken around him, bequeathed to 
mankind the last expressions of his reliance on Je- 
sus Christ for everlasting salvation. It deserves 
consideration, that in this his dying confession of 
faith are to be discovered no traces of any doctri- 
nal system, but such as is common to all devout 
members of the Protestant church. He ascribes 
his salvation simply to gratuitous mercy through 
the cross of Christ; and what is worthy of remark, 
by such as are familiar with his name only as de- 
signating a controversy, he unequivocally speaks 
of the shedding of our Saviour's blood " for all 
poor sinners" in common with himself. Had his 
death-bed been surrounded by persons hostile to 
the peculiar creed which is designated by his 
name, some plausible suspicion might have arisen 



156 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



that the commencement of his last will, in obedi- 
ence to their persuasions or arguments, was in fact 
a recantation of earlier opinions; but in reality, 
he died in the midst of a circle formed by him- 
self, and unreservedly devoted to his person and 
theology. We see, therefore, that when he was 
delivering his final sentiments, such delivery was 
in the highest sense his own act and deed. No 
opponent was present to suggest doubts; and on 
the other hand, as his attendant friends were en- 
tirely of his own school, their advice, whether 
asked for or offered, would in either case have 
imparted the colouring of their master's system to 
his last written act of faith. — It is a subject of re- 
ligious exultation to serious minds, that there is 
unquestionably a point where realty pious indivi- 
duals, attached to creeds and communities very 
widely separated, will always practically meet. It 
is an unity not of a few correct opinions held in 
common, but an unity of spirit growing out of an 
unity of faith in Christ crucified."* 

Having made his will, Calvin signified to the 
four syndics his wish to address them once more 
in their assembly, to which he hoped to be carried 
on the morrow. But they informed him that they 
would visit him, and conjured him to be careful of 
his health. The next day, being all present at his 
house, after the usual compliments, and Calvin 



* Christian Observer. Review of" Life and Institutes 
of Calvin/' by Mackenzie and Allen. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



157 



having told them that he had long wished to ad- ( 
dress them, and to express the last proof of his af- 
fection for them, and his attachment to the inte- 
rests of the State, but that he had not been willing 
to do it until he was assured of the near approach 
of death; — " I thank you," said he, " my highly 
honoured seigneurs, for all the honours you have 
done me, however unworthy I have been of them ; 
and for the proofs of affection which you have 
given me, bearing with my weaknesses, and my 
deficiencies, with long patience. And though in 
the duties of my charge I have been exposed to 
various struggles, and have endured numerous at- 
tacks, 1 know that these things have not happened 
by your fault, but by the secret orders of Divine 
Providence, who exposes his children to various 
tribulations. But, because I have not acquitted 
myself of my duty as 1 ought to have done, I ear- 
nestly entreat you to consider not so much what 
I have done, as what I intended to do. For I can 
declare with sincerity, that I have felt a deep con- 
cern in the interests of your republic, and that if 
I have not discharged all the duties of my charge, 
I have at least used my utmost endeavours to pro- 
mote the welfare of the public. 

" If I were not indeed to acknowledge that the 
Lord has made use of my ministry for the good of 
his church, and that by the help of heaven, my la- 
bours have not been useless to you, you might 
with justice accuse me of dissimulation. But as I 
am convinced that what I have done is trifling, 
14 



153 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



compared to what the Lord required of me, I be- 
seech you earnestly to excuse my faults and my 
short-comings. 

" I thank you, however, for the indulgence which 
you have shewn me, in bearing with mildness and 
with charity all my transports of anger, which I 
hope God will pardon, as well as all my other sins. 
Finally, . I declare before God, that I have not 
rashly or without due conviction, taught you the 
doctrine which you have heard from me; but that 
I have purely and sincerely preached to you the 
word of God, according to the charge which he 
hath given me of it. And as I should have pro- 
voked his anger, if I had acted otherwise, so I am 
persuaded that my labours, and the pains which I 
have taken to instruct you, have not been displea- 
sing to him. And I make this declaration before 
God, and in your presence, so much the more wil- 
lingly, as I do not doubt that Satan, after his usu- 
al manner, will raise up many light, wicked, and 
ambitious spirits, to corrupt and change the pure 
doctrine which I have published to you." 

Having represented to them the infinite blessings 
with which God had loaded them; " There is no 
one," added he, " who can better than myself in- 
form you from how many dangers the powerful 
and merciful hand of the Lord hath delivered you. 
You see the happy state in which you now are. * 
Whether, therefore, you are in prosperity or in ad- 
versity, keep this truth constantly in view, that it 
is God alone who preserves cities and kingdoms, 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



159 



and that he requires homage from them, in ac- 
knowledgment that they depend entirely upon him- 
self. Remember that David, that illustrious king, 
confesses that at a time when he enjoyed a pro- 
found peace, he experienced so dangerous a fall^ 
from which he would never have arisen, if the 
Lord by a singular favour had not stretched out 
his hand. What ought not weak and infirm men, 
therefore, to fear, since so powerful and pious a 
prince has fallen ? 

" You must, therefore, humble yourselves ex- 
ceedingly before God, if you desire that he would 
give you grace to live in his fear, and to put your 
whole trust in his all-sufficient help. Conducting 
yourselves thus, you may be persuaded that you 
will experience his protection, as you have done 
hitherto, and that you will remain firm and unsha- 
ken, although your salvation hangs upon a slender 
thread. If, therefore, the Lord prosper your de- 
signs, be careful that you do not exalt yourselves 
like the profane, but with deep submission render 
unto him the humblest thanks for all the good he 
is doing for you. And when you find yourselves 
in adversity, when even death shall surround you 
on all sides, fail not to hope in Him who has power 
to raise the dead ; and consider that God only 
smites you to excite your zeal, and to teach you to 
hope in him alone. 

" If, however, you are anxious that God would 
preserve you in the happy state in which you now 
are, be careful not to defile by your vices the ho- 



160 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



liness of the church in which he hath placed you : 
for he is the only Sovereign God, the King of 
kings, and the Lord of lords, who loads with 
good things, and with honours, those who honour 
him; but who abases and covers with contempt 
those who despise him. Serve him, therefore, ac- 
cording to the precepts which he hath given you; 
have nothing so much at heart as to obey his di- 
vine will, and seek daily to acquire some new de- 
gree of virtue and of perfection : for whilst we are 
in this world we can never accomplish all the du- 
ties which God hath^enjoined upon us. I know 
the morals, and the inclinations of each of you, 
and I know that you stand in need of exhortation ; 
no man is so perfect as not to have many faults. 
Examine yourselves, therefore, carefully, and ask 
of God those qualities and virtues which you yet 
need. 

" We all know what vices reign in the assemblies 
of those who govern the states : some, neglecting 
the public good, mind only their private interests; 
others are only anxious to gratify their passions: 
some make a bad use of the gifts of Heaven; 
while others, filled with vanity and a good opinion 
of themselves, wish to impose their advice upon all 
the world. 

" I conjure the aged not to envy young persons 
the graces with which God hath adorned them ; 
and the young to discover in their whole conduct 
great modesty and humility. Be not discouraged, 
neither trouble one another. Avoid all kinds of 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



161 



animosities and bitterness. For nothing is more 
likely to prevent the execution of designs for the 
public good. 

" To be defended from all these evils, each one 
must be satisfied with the condition in which he is 
placed, and all acquit themselves generally with 
fidelity in the employment committed to them. I 
entreat you also to be careful, that neither favour 
nor hatred have any influence upon your judgments 
in civil processes ; and to take care that neither 
fraud, solicitations, nor any other oblique means 
have any influence against right and just reason. 
Should you be tempted to support the bad cause 
through interest, resist it vigorously ; considering 
him who hath raised you to this dignity, and ask- 
ing of him the succours of his Holy Spirit. Fi- 
nally, as I have been the subject of many weak- 
nesses and imperfections, which I confess before 
God, and before his holy angels, and before you, 
highly honoured seigneurs, I once more beseech 
you to excuse and pardon them." 

Having finished this discourse, he besought God 
to load them with his favours, and to conduct them 
by his Holy Spirit, for the advantage of the re- 
public ; and having shaken hands with them all, 
bade them farewell ; the seigneurs, who considered 
him their common father, could not separate from 
him without tears, or without discovering the deep- 
est distress. 

On the 28th of April, all the ministers of the 
town, and those of the country, being assembled in 
14* 



162 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



his room, according to his desire, he addressed 
them iii the following discourse : — " I exhort you, 
my brethren, to discover after my death the same 
zeal in the exercise of your charge, which you 
have hitherto shewn, and never to lose courage : 
being persuaded that the Lord will defend this 
church and this republic from all the dangers with 
which they are threatened. Suffer not divisions 
and enmities ever to destroy that mutual charity 
which ought to reign amongst you. Think con- 
tinually of what you owe to the flocks of which 
you are the pastors ; and let nothing separate you 
from them. I know that those who wish to desert 
them will not want pretexts to colour their infideli- 
ty ; but a fatal experience will one day convince 
them, that the Lord cannot be mocked. 

" When I first arrived in this city, the gospel 
was indeed preached ; but disorder and confusion 
were so universal, that every body made Christi- 
anity to consist in the overthrow of the laws; and 
I suffered many indignities from several base per- 
sons, whose insolence I endeavoured to repress. 
However, though naturally extremely timid, God 
banished from my heart all fear, and gave me so 
firm and intrepid a courage, that I resisted all the 
attempts of the wicked, and was invincible to all 
their attacks. 

" When I returned from Strasbourg, I confess it 
was with extreme reluctance that I yielded to the 
earnest prayers of this church ; because I thought 
that all my cares would produce no fruit : for I 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



163 



was ignorant of the designs of Divine Providence ; 
and I perceived that I was engaging in an enter- 
prise full of difficulties, which to me appeared in- 
surmountable. But, having begun this holy work, 
and continuing to apply to it all my exertions, I 
found at length, that God poured his benedictions 
upon my labour. 

w Persist then constantly in the vocation with 
which you are called ; preserve the order and the 
rules which are observed in this church : do all 
that depends upon you to retain this people in their 
duty : for you are not ignorant of the great num- 
ber of the wicked and the rebellious. You perceive 
that this church is not now in a low condition ; and 
you will draw upon yourselves the judgments of 
God, if it should ever be destroyed by your negli- 
gence. Finally, I declare to you, my brethren, 
that I have always been united to you by a sincere 
friendship ; that if during this affliction you have 
felt any effects of my grief, I entreat your pardon, 
and return you a thousand thanks for having borne 
with my defects so long a time." 

Calvin having been informed by a letter from 
Farel, that, though he was eighty-four years of age, 
and loaded with infirmities, he had resolved to vi- 
sit him ; replied, " I wish you perfect health, my 
very dear brother ; and since God intends you 
should remain in this world after me, remember 
ever our union, which hath produced so many ad- 
vantages to the church, and the fruit of which we 
shall gather in heaven. 



164 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



" I beg, however, that you would not on my ac- 
count expose yourself to the fatigue of a journey. 
My respiration is difficult, and I am about to 
breathe the last gasp, happy to live and die in Je- 
sus Christ, who is gain to all his children in life 
and in death ; I bid you, and all my brethren, my 
last adieu. — Wholly yours, 

John Calvin. 

" At Geneva, May 2, 1564." 

This letter did not, however, prevent the vener- 
able old man from paying his last attentions to 
Calvin : after having seen and conversed with him, 
he returned the next day to Neufchatel. 

From this time to the period of his death, he was 
incessantly employed in prayer to God. It was, 
indeed, in a low voice, interrupted by a shortness 
of breath, with which he was oppressed ; but his 
sparkling eyes, constantly directed towards heaven, 
and the serenity of his countenance, discovered the 
ardour of his petitions, and his confidence in the 
mercy of God. In his most violent pains he fre- 
quently repeated those words of David ; " I was 
dumb, Lord, because thou didst it." And some- 
times those of Isaiah ; " 1 mourn like the dove." 
And frequently, lifting up his heart to God, he 
would exclaim, " Lord, thou bruisest me, but I 
suffer with patience, since it is thy hand that hath 
done it." ; 

To admit all the persons who wished to express 
their regret at the prospect of losing him, the door 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



165 



of his chamber must have been open night and 
day. But as he spoke with difficulty, he requested 
that his friends would be contented to pray to God 
for him, and spare themselves the trouble of visit- 
ing him. On being visited by his intimate and 
highly valued friend Beza, he informed him, that 
he made it a matter of conscience not to divert him 
in the smallest degree from the duties of his charge, 
so much had he the interests of the church, and the 
glory of God, at heart. In this state he continued 
until the 19th of May, exhibiting a perfect resig- 
nation, and comforting his friends. And, as on 
this day they were accustomed to partake of a meal 
together, in token of their intimate friendship, he 
was anxious that thpy should gup in the hall of his 
house ; and being carried thither from his cham- 
ber, he made use of these words on entering : " I 
am come to see you, my brethren, and to seat my- 
self at table with you for the last time." He then 
offered up the usual prayer, ate a little, and dis- 
coursed in a manner worthy of his piety, and of 
his zeal; and when his weakness obliged him to 
retire to his chamber, looking at the company with 
a smile, " This wall," said he, " will not prevent 
my being united with you in spirit." 

What he had predicted, happened; for until this 
day, however weak, he had never failed to rise, and 
to be placed before his table. But after this night 
he remained confined to his bed, so thin and ex- 
hausted, that breath only remained, though his 
face was not much altered. 



166 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



On the day of his death, which was the 24th of 
May, he appeared to speak with less difficulty, and 
more strength. But it was the last effort of nature. 
About eight o'clock in the evening, the signs of 
death appeared suddenly in his face ; he continued 
speaking, however, with great propriety, until his 
last breath, when he appeared rather to fall asleep 
than die. 

Thus was this great light of the Protestant 
church extinguished. On the day following, the 
whole city was plunged into the most inconceiva- 
ble grief; for the republic regretted the wisest of 
its' citizens; the church its faithful pastor; the 
school its incomparable master ; and all bewailed 

their common father, the source of their joy and 

consolation. Many ran in crowds to his room, and 
could scarcely be persuaded to separate themselves 
from his body. There were also several strangers, 
and amongst them, the ambassador of England, 
whom the reputation of this great man had drawn 
to Geneva ; who, not having been able to see 
him living, earnestly entreated to see his remains. 
Their request was immediately complied with. 

Calvin, after having been concerned in the es- 
tablishment of many churches in France, Germany, 
England, and Poland, and having committed his 
flock, as well as pupils, to his friend and disciple 
Theodore Beza, closed his indefatigable career ; 
and left behind him in the city which had been the 
principal theatre of his exertions, a reputation for 
piety, learning, and wisdom, which has fallen to 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



167 



the lot of scarcely any among his fellow labour- 
ers."* 

The following testimony of the celebrated De 
Thou, a Catholic historian, does equal honour to 
the subject of these Memoirs, and to himself : — 
" John Calvin, of Noyon in Vermandois, a man of 
a lively and ardent spirit, of astonishing eloquence, 
and who passed for a most profound Theologian 
amongst the Protestants, died on the 24th of May, 
after having endured for seven years various afflic- 
tive disorders, which however did not hinder him 
from discharging the functions of his ministry, from 
labouring and from writing. He died of an asthma, 
at Geneva, where he had taught twenty years, not 
having attained his fifty-sixth year."f 

On the day following that of his death, which 
was Sunday, about eight o'clock in the morning, 
his body was covered and enclosed in a wooden 
coffin ; and at two o'clock in the afternoon he was 
conveyed, without any pomp, to the common bu- 
rying place, called Plein Palais. All the seigneurs, 
ministers, and professors, and almost all the in- 
habitants of the town, attended at the funeral cere- 
mony with expressions of the deepest grief. No 
inscription was put upon his tomb, because he had 
expressly forbidden it ; but the following elegant and 
appropriate epigram was written by his friend Beza : 



# The History of the Helvetic Confederacy, by Jo- 
seph Planter, Esq. F. R. S. 

t Histoire de I. A. De Thou, liv. xxxvi, 



168 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



" Romse mentis terror ille maximus, 
Quern mortuum lugent boni, horrescunt mali 
Ipsa a quo potuit virtutem discere virtus, 
Cur adeo exiguo ignotoque in cespite clausus, 
Calvinus lateat, rogas ? 

Calvinum assidue comitata modestia, vivum, 
Hoc tumulo manibus condidit ipsa suis. 
O te beatum cespitem tanto hospite ! 
O cui invidere cuncta possint marmora!" 



Shall honoured Calvin to the dust return, 

From whom e'en Virtue's self might virtue learn ; 

Shall he, — of falling Rome the greatest dread, 

By all the good bewail'd, and now (tho' dead) 

The terror of the vile, — lie in so mean, 

So small a tomb, where not his Name is seen ? 

Sweet Modesty, who still by Calvin's side 

Walk'd while he liv'd, here laid him when he died. 

() happy tomb with such a tenant grac'd ! 

O envied marble o'er Ms ashes plac'd ! 



Calvin was fifty-four years old when he died, 
half of which time he spent in the labours of the 
ministry. He was of the middle size, a pale face, 
brown complexion, and brilliant eyes, which an- 
nounced the penetration and vivacity of his mind. 
Neat and modest in his habits, as well as moderate 
in his eating, he had no less horror of luxury than 
of impurity. He ate, indeed, so little, that during* 
several years he partook of only one meal a day, 
on account of the weakness of his stomach. He 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



169 



slept but little. His memory was so tenacious, 
that he remembered persons whom he had only 
seen once, after the lapse of a considerable time ; 
nor did he ever forget the smallest thing con- 
nected with his charge, though oppressed with 
innumerable occupations. Whilst he was engaged 
in composing any work, though interrupted by 
important duties for several hours, he would re- 
sume his work, without reading again what he had 
already written. He was so prudent and judicious, 
that no person ever repented having followed his 
advice. Though his manners were grave and se- 
rious, his conversation was remarkably sweet and 
interesting. He bore with the defects of others 
with admirable prudence ; for, as on the one hand 
he never oppressed the consciences of weak per- 
sons with terror, or threw them into confusion by 
censures too severe ; so, on the other hand, he ne- 
ver encouraged sinners in their vices, by excusing 
or flattering them. A friend to truth, sincerity, 
and candour, especially in religious concerns, he 
was the declared enemy of dissimulation and ob- 
stinacy. 

Being of a bilious habit, he was easily excited 
to choler, a susceptibility considerably increased 
by a studious and laborious life. He had, how- 
ever, learned to moderate it so effectually, that he 
never used any expressions unworthy of a pious 
k man : nor was any thing capable of moving him 
but the conduct of rebellious and undisciplined 
persons. 

15 



170 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



No person could be more disinterested than Cal- 
vin ; his goods, his books, and his money, did not 
produce the sum of one hundred and twenty-five 
crowns ; he, however, refused, during his sickness, 
twenty-five crowns, which the Council wished to 
^present him with ; as well as the share of emolu- 
ments due to him : he thought he ought not to re- 
ceive them, because he was incapable of fulfilling 
the duties of his appointments. 

Calvin gave many proofs of his attachment to 
Geneva; his life, principally devoted to the good 
of that republic, was a perpetual demonstration of 
it; but he furnished a peculiar and striking in- 
stance of it in the month of May 1559, when a 
siege was apprehended ; every body worked in re- 
pairing the fortifications of the town: the profes- 
sors of the academy, the pastors, as well as liter- 
ary characters, after the example of Calvin, under- 
took to complete one of the bastions of the place. 

Though Calvin was sufficiently attached to his 
own opinions, he respected those of others; and 
though fixed in his sentiments, he knew how to es- 
teem and commend those who did not hold, and 
even those who condemned them. It is well known 
that he was thoroughly decided on predestination, 
grace, and the sacraments; he, however, translated 
into French, the Stim of Theology, by Melancthon, 
in 1546, and had it republished in 1551. Yet Me- 
lancthon was considerably more reserved than Cal- 
vin on the first article; and called absolution a sa- 
crament. Calvin, notwithstanding, wrote a pre- 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



171 



face for that work, and acknowledged in it, that 
Melancthon had said all that was necessary to sal- 
vation, and that he had only omitted what persons 
may be ignorant of without danger; he even de- 
scribed with energy the disputes so ill managed on 
those subjects; saying, that " they were perplexed 
and confused, and produced no fruit of profitable 
instruction." He concluded his reflections, which 
were just, by a handsome eulogy on Melancthon, 
and exhorted his readers to imitate that great man 
in moderation, docility, and piety. 

The above instance will be considered by the 
impartial reader, as characteristic of a great and 
liberal mind. The importance of unity of senti- 
ment with regard to the fundamental doctrines of 
the gospel, can never be too earnestly maintained ; 
but it becomes every man to examine whether, in 
the distribution of importance to particular truths, 
his decision be in unison with scripture authority 
and example : or, in other words, whether he regu- 
late the importance of every article, not by the 
rank assigned to it in his particular system, but by 
the relative importance which it occupies in the 
Holy Scriptures. The truths which, in the New 
Testament, are represented as important to be be- 
lieved in order to salvation, are few and obvious, 
and easily distinguished from what may with pro- 
priety be denominated speculative theology. An 
attention to this simple distinction would prevent 
numerous mistakes and disputes, the general effect 
of which is equally injurious and disgusting. Uni- 



172 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



formity of sentiment on the subordinate points of 
religion, is plainly impossible, from the state of so- 
ciety; nor will the chimera ever be pursued by 
any but fanatical bigots, or interested communities. 
Truth is the friend of Christ, but we should ever 
remember, that his sheep are also dear to him. If 
in defending our doctrines, we abandon modera- 
tion and Christian charity, we shall convey an im- 
pression that they are incompatible with zeal for 
truth, though it is their union alone which consti- 
tutes the true Christian.* 

A remarkable and pleasing trait in the character 
of Calvin must not be omitted. Bucer loudly 
blamed the vehemence of Calvin; Calvin knew it, 
and wrote to him expressly to acknowledge his 
fault. " My struggles are not greater," said he, 

against my vices, which are very great and nu- 
merous, than against my impatience ; and my ef- 
forts are not wholly useless. I have not, however, 
yet been able to conquer that ferocious animal." — 
'' What modesty!" says Vossius.f 

* " Men may differ from each other in many religious 
opinions, and yet all may retain the essentials of Christi- 
anity ; men may sometimes eagerly dispute, and yet not 
differ much from one another: the rigorous persecutors 
of error should, therefore, enlighten their zeal with know- 
ledge, and temper their orthodoxy with charity, that 
charity, without which orthodoxy is vain ; charity that 
thinketh no evil, but hopeth all things, and endureth all 
things." — Dr. Samuel Johnson. Life of Sir Thomas 
Browne, p. 58. 

f Epist. Preestant Theol. p. SI 7- 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



173 



ft is important to remark, that the consideration 
which Calvin enjoyed in Geneva did not place him 
above the laws. His works were liable to the same 
censure as those of other writers, and he was fre- 
quently compelled to correct them in the manner 
thought most desirable. Does not this clearly 
prove that Calvin, instead of directing despotically 
the opinions of his superiors and his equals, often 
sacrificed his own to those which were prescribed 
to him? 

M. Gaillard, an historian distinguished for ac- 
curacy and eloquence, attributes to Calvin the 
wars which religion gave rise to in France; but of 
this he furnishes no proof: on the contrary, it is 
certain that he sought peace with ardour; that he 
would have established it universally ; that he ex- 
horted all those who attempted to interrupt it; that 
he wrote in the same strain to all who consulted 
him: and that he solicited money of the German 
princes for the persecuted Protestants in France : 
His correspondence, printed, and in manuscript, 
leaves no doubt with respect to his pacific inten- 
tions. 

We have already seen that he was zealous and 
indefatigable in the pursuit of truth; active and 
courageous in the propagation of it; pure in his 
morals, correct in his conduct, and disinterested 
in all his actions. Superior to trifling considera- 
tions of vanity, he despised luxury, honours, and 
pleasures; his vices arose out of the extremity of 
his virtues: he instantly became indignant whenever 
* 15* 



174 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



he saw truth and piety prostrated at the feet of the 
wicked: an enemy of all dissimulation, he express- 
ed himself with frankness; and as he was naturally 
violent, his manner was harsh and painful; but he 
never spared himself: he acknowledged his faults; 
he displayed them unveiled, and frequently treated 
himself with the same severity which he shewed to 
others. It is certain that if Calvin did not gain 
the friendship of all who knew him, he at least 
commanded their esteem. 

In the Ecclesiastical History of M. L'Abbe Be- 
rault De Bercastel, it appears that that historian 
has assembled whatever can be imagined of an 
atrocious nature, to render the character of a great 
man odiqus, whom he did not know ; to calumni- 
ate those virtues which he could not dispute ; and 
to lower those talents which he was compelled to 
admit. But it is not difficult to account for the 
Reformer not being a favourite of the Abbe. 

Calvin surpassed all the leaders of his day, by 
his superior intellect : he was even the reformer of 
the Romish church, which he induced to suppress 
many crying abuses, authorized by her silence : he 
contributed to deliver mankind from the yoke of 
superstition, and to give them just views of des- 
potism over conscience: by forcing the clergy to 
study and to reason, he favoured the progress of 
science and philosophy. But it was in Geneva, 
especially, that he unfolded the energy of his soul; 
where he was at once the light of the church, the 
oracle of the laws, the support of liberty, the re- 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



175 



storer of morals, the fountain of literature and of 
the sciences. To him the Genevese are indebted 
for the virtues which have so long rendered them 
celebrated, and the sciences which they cultivate 
with so much success. To the composition of the 
edicts, civil and political, which have ensured the 
prosperity of the republic during so many years, 
he devoted much of his time; so that Montesquieu 
has remarked with propriety, that " The Genevese 
ought to bless the moment of the birth of Calvin, 
and that of his arrival within the walls of Geneva." 

Calvin was acquainted with all the great men of 
his age, who were distinguished either by their 
rank, or the part which they were then acting in 
Europe; as is evident from the large collection of 
his letters in the library of Geneva ; from those 
which are found in the library of the King of 
France, under the numbers 8585, and 8586, of 
the Latin manuscripts: as well as from the manu- 
scripts of M. Dupuy, No. 102 : there are also a great 
number in the library of the Due de Saxe Gotha ; 
they were afterwards collected by Theodore deBeza, 
who sold them, with his library, to George de Zas- 
trisse'l. Those which are printed are very generally 
known, and there are few libraries without some of 
them. 

It has frequently been asked, why Calvin was 
usually styled Maitre Jehan Calvin ?.* It has been 
thought that he took this title as doctor in law ; 
others suppose he was called so, according to the 



* Master John Calvin, 



176 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



Swiss custom, by which the pastors are presented 
to the people by the title of Master or Doctor; but 
then all the ministers, who had studied in law, 
would have adopted the same honour: this usage, 
however, was not adopted by the colleagues and 
successors of Calvin. 

It is not to be wondered at, that so many good 
qualities and great virtues excited so many ene- 
mies, if we reflect, not only upon sacred, but upon 
profane history, and consider the adventures of the 
most famous heroes of Pagan antiquity. Nor will 
it be thought strange, that so valiant a defender of 
holy doctrine, a man who had so extreme an hor- 
ror of vice, and so ardent a love of virtue, should 
be attacked so vigorously by enemies from without 
and from within. 

In the opinion of a celebrated divine of the pre- 
sent day, Calvin was the " Paul of the Reforma- 
tion." — " Had any thing," he remarks, " been 
wanting in his own writings, in the opinion of his 
coternporaries, in his influence with the political 
and ecclesiastical cabinets of Europe, and in the 
dread and . terror of the Papists, to evince the 
greatness of this extraordinary man, it would 
have been supplied by the rancorous malignity 
which assailed him during his life ; and which has 
been hardly, if at all, abated by his death. His 
very name seems at this day to blister the tribes of 
error in all its gradations ; and to form a solitary 
exception to the reverence which the world enter- 
tains for departed genius. More than two hundred 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



177 



and fitly years have elapsed since he went to join 
the apostle whom he so much resembled, in the 
kingdom of God ; and there is hardly an enemy to 
the truth, of whatever size, who does not think it 
incumbent on him to derive importance from i a 
gird' at the memory of Calvin."* 

Calvin was accused of being a heretic; but was 
not Jesus Christ treated in the same manner by the 
Jewish priests ? He was banished from Geneva, 
but he was afterwards recalled. And though this 
had not been the case, did not the Apostles, St. 
Athanasius and St. Chrysostom, suffer the same 
treatment ? Other attempts were made to blacken 
his reputation by various calumnies. He has been 
accused of being ambitious, and of attempting to 
play the Pope, amongst those of his own persua- 
sion. What! shall he be accused of ambition, who 
chose for his sphere of action the republic and the 
church of Geneva, which may justly be called the 
seat of poverty ? Shall it be said that he was ava- 
ricious ? He, whose effects, after having even sold 
his library at a high rate, did not produce three 
hundred crowns ? — In order to refute this calumny, 
" My death," said he, with great justness, " will 
shew how much they are deceived, who persuade 
themselves that I am rich." 

An instance of disinterestedness, which does equal 
honour to his moral and religious character, and 



* A Plea for Catholic Communion in the Church of 
God.— By J. M. Mason, D. D. 2d edit. 



178 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



amply refutes the absurd charges of ambition and 
avarice which have been brought against him, de- 
serves to be generally known. It was related at 
Geneva, by Deodati, to the first Lord Orrery, who 
flourished under the reign of Charles I. 

" Eckius being sent by the pope, legate into 
France, upon his return resolved to take Geneva in 
his way, on purpose to see Calvin ; and, if occasion 
were, to attempt reducing him to the Roman church. 
Therefore, when Eckius was come within a league 
of Geneva, he left his retinue there, and went, ac- 
companied but with one man, to the city, in -the 
forenoon. Setting up his horses at an inn, he in- 
quired where Calvin lived; whose house being 
shewn him, he knocked at the door; and Calvin 
himself came to open it to him. Eckius inquiring 
for Mr. Calvin, he was told he was the person. 
Eckius acquainted him that he was a stranger ; and 
having heard much of his fame, was come to wait 
upon him. Calvin invited him to come in ; and 
he entered the house with him; where, discoursing 
of many things concerning religion, Eckius per- 
ceived Calvin to be an ingenious learned man, and 
desired to know if he had not a garden to walk in : 
to which Calvin replying he had, they both went 
into it ; and there Eckius began to inquire of him, 
why he left the Roman church ; and offered him 
some arguments to persuade him to return; but 
Calvin could by no means be persuaded to think 
of it. At last, Eckius told him that he would put 
his life in his hands; and then said he was Eckius 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



179 



the pope's legate. At this discovery, Calvin was 
not a little surprised ; and begged his pardon that 
he had not treated him with the respect which was 
due to his quality. Eckius returned the compli- 
ment ; and told him if he would come back to the 
Roman church, he would certainly procure for him 
a cardinal's cap. But Calvin was not to be moved 
by such an offer. Eckius then asked him what re- 
venue he had; he told the cardinal he had that 
house and garden, and fifty livres per annum, be- , 
side an annual present of some wine and corn, on 
which he lived very contentedly. Eckius told him, 
that a man of his parts deserved a greater revenue ; 
and then renewed his invitation to come over to the 
Romish church, promising him a better stipend if 
he would. But Calvin, giving him thanks, as- 
sured him he was well satisfied with his condition, 
About this time, dinner was ready, when he enter- 
tained his guest as well as he could, excused the 
defects of it, and paid him great respect. Ec- 
kius, after dinner, desired to know if he might not 
be admitted to see the church, which anciently 
was the cathedral of that city. Calvin very rea- 
dily answered that he might ; accordingly, he sent 
to the ofncers to be ready with the keys, and de- 
sired some of the syndics to be there present, not 
acquainting them who the stranger was. As soon, 
therefore, as it was convenient, they both went to- 
wards the church ; and as Eckius was coming out 
of Calvin's house, he drew out a purse, with about 
one hundred pistoles, and presented it to Calvin ; 



180 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



but Calvin desired to be excused: Eckius toid him 
he gave it to buy books, as well as to express his 
respect for him. Calvin, with much regret, took 
the purse : and they proceeded to the church, 
where the syndics and officers waited upon them, 
at the sight of whom Eckius thought he had been 
betrayed, and whispered his thoughts in the ear of 
Calvin, who assured him of his safety. Thereupon 
they went into the church ; and Eckius having seen 
all, told Calvin he did not expect to find things in 
so decent an order, having been told to the con- 
trary. After having taken a full view of every 
thing, Eckius was returning out of the church ; but 
Calvin stopped him a little, and calling the syndics 
and officers together, took out the purse of gold 
which Eckius had given him, telling them that he 
had received that gold from this worthy stranger, 
and that now he gave it to the poor; and so put it 
all into the poor box that was kept there. The 
syndics thanked the stranger ; and Eckius admired 
the charity and modesty of Calvin. When they 
were come out of the church, Calvin invited Eckius 
again to his house: but he replied that he must de- 
part ; so, thanking him for all his civilities, offered 
to take his leave. But Calvin waited upon him to 
the inn, and walked with him a mile out of the 
territories of Geneva, where, with great compli- 
ments, they took a farewell of each other."* 



* See the State Letters and Memoirs of the Right Hon. 
Roger Boyle, pp. 4, 5. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



181 



With regard to idleness, of which he has been 
accused, it is only necessary to glance at his works, 
to be convinced that no slander was ever more 
barefaced. 

Dr. Hoyle, who wrote under the patronage 
of Archbishop Usher, mentioning Calvin, says, 
" What, shall I speak of his indefatigable indus- 
try, almost beyond the power of nature ; which, 
paralleled with our loitering, will, I fear, exceed 
all credit ? It may be the truest object of admi- 
ration, how one lean, worn, spent, and wearied 
body could hold out. He read, every week of the 
year through, three divinity lectures ; every other 
week, over and above, he preached every day : so 
that (as Erasmus said of Chrysostom) I know not 
whether more to admire his constancy, or theirs 
that heard him. Some have reckoned his yearly 
lectures to be one hundred and eighty -six, and his 
yearly sermons two hundred and eighty-six. Every 
Thursday he sate in the presbytery. Every Fri- 
day, when the ministers met to consult upon diffi- 
cult texts, he made as good as a lecture. Besides 
all this, there was scarce a day that exercised him 
not in answering, either by word of mouth or wri- 
ting, the doubts and questions of different churches 
and pastors; yea, sometimes more at once ; so that 
he might say with Paul — the care of all the churches 
lieth upon me. Scarcely a year past, wherein, over 
and above all these former employments, some 
great volume in folio, or other, came not forth."* 



Biographia Evangelica, vol. II. p. 57* 
16 



182 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



" Such a preacher he was, that like another Or- 
pheus, he drew England, Spain, and Italy to him, 
filling Geneva with strangers."* 

A striking instance of the placability of Calvin 
is too interesting to be suppressed. His piercing 
eye had unmasked the hypocrite Troillet; he had 
also deprived him of the ministerial character to 
which he aspired. But when the sources of life, 
exhausted in Troillet, had weakened his hatred, 
and he perceived death approaching with slow and 
certain steps, he wished to be reconciled, and sent 
for Calvin, who ran to him, forgave him, comfort- 
ed him, and received his last adieu, which was one 
of gratitude. 

The last moments of Calvin were, perhaps, the 
finest of his life ; he bade farewell to the republic 
like a father who is about to leave a beloved fami- 
ly ; to its chiefs, to all its citizens, he gave wise 
counsels ; he anticipated the regrets which his 
death was about to occasion ; and saw the tears 
which it would cause to flow. His tomb was sim- 
ple, and without distinction ; but he was honoured 
with the mourning of the country which had adopt- 
ed him., She owed indeed to him, in part, her 
liberty and her happiness : his inflexible severity 
repressed licentiousness, and established virtue, 
without which the wisest laws speak in vain; he 
also revived internal union, which enabled them to 
defend themselves against the common enemy. If 



Marrow of Ecclesiastical History. 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 183 

the man may sometimes blame him, the citizen 
ought ever to bless him. 

The just and eloquent character given of the il- 
lustrious subject of these Memoirs, by Alexandre 
Morus, rector of the academy of Geneva, shall 
close the account. 

" As the sun when he arises with a glorious light, 
extinguishes by his presence all the stars which, 
during the darkness of the night, held the empire 
of the heavens in the absence of that great lumina- 
ry, and scattered, though feebly, the grateful light 
which they had borrowed from him ; thus, when 
the Sun of Righteousness appears in the beauty of 
his divine rays, he extinguishes, by his infinite lus- 
tre, all those lesser lights of the saints with which 
the church is adorned on earth. Not that he de- 
prives them of the rank which they hold in the 
heavens, but they are incapable of appearing in his 
presence. That divine sun reigns alone in the ma- 
jesty of day, but the men whom he has sanctified 
by his grace, fail not to keep their station in the 
night. And we ought to contemplate them who 
live in this age of darkness, and to consider them 
as stars, which shed light to guide our steps in- 
to the way which leads to a blessed immortality. 
Let us, however, be upon our guard, lest we offer 
an insult to the Sun of Righteousness, by compa- 
ring with him those inferior lights which we see 
darken, disappear, and die away in his presence. 
Let us ever recollect, that whatever fire or light 
holy souls possess, is derived from that eternal sun s 



184 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



and contemplate God, rather than man, in those 
great personages who edify the church. I have 
thought it necessary, gentlemen, to use this pre- 
caution, especially on this day, in which I am about 
to portray that bright star whose rising has re- 
stored to us light after darkness; I mean John Cal- 
vin, an illustrious personage, if ever there existed 
one ; whose memory deserves to be had in perpe- 
tual veneration. I am about to represent to you 
the great wonders which God has accomplished by 
his ministry. As you have honoured this assembly 
with your personal attendance, give me also the 
attention of your mind. I beseech you, inhabitants 
of Geneva, since your own interests are involved. 
I intreat you, noble and illustrious strangers, since 
I am about to address you on the interests of God ? 
and the great things which he hath done to pro- 
mote his glory. 

" I have often considered, that as we cannot, 
without criminality, make the greatest of men the 
companions and colleagues of Jesus Christ; so it 
is necessary, on the other hand, to guard against 
the opposite extreme, of burying their memory in 
.an eternal oblivion. This would be to despise the 
rich inheritance of their pains and labours which 
we enjoy ; and to bury their name in silence, with- 
out testifying our gratitude by the slightest remem- 
brance. I therefore conjure you, my illustrious 
hearers, with all the ardour which I possess, and 
to the full extent which religion will permit, to ve- 
nerate the name of the great Calvin : let him live 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



185 



in your remembrance, let him inflame your hearts ; 
let him be revered in the senate ; let him be ho- 
noured in the church ; let your academy and your 
schools crown him daily with fresh praises and ap- 
plauses ; let your citizens have his triumphs conti- 
nually in their mouths ; let your youth respect 
him ; let his memory, victorious over calumny, be 
venerated by the whole earth ; let him descend 
from our children to their children's children, to 
the most remote posterity, that future ages may 
celebrate with immortal praises the precious recol- 
lection of the greatest man whom Providence ever 
raised up to relieve the church of Geneva. 

" Your ancestors, however, have not erected 
statues to him in your public places, nor built a 
chapel to his honour, nor raised a monument to his 
memory. So little consideration did they pay to 
his remains, that they contented themselves with 
simply throwing earth upon his body, and with so 
little distinction from their common practice, that 
we now seek in vain for the spot where his bones 
rest; a little moss and turf serving him for a mau- 
soleum. Those wise men judged correctly, that 
extraordinary virtue (to speak according to the an- 
cients) consecrated itself by its own merit, which 
renders it sufficiently venerable, without any addi- 
tion. It despises foreign ornaments, and requires 
no attire but its own. In a word, the proper re- 
compence which is due to him, is not to engrave 
his image upon marble or brass, and then to place 
it upon some superb edifice, as a magnificent the- 
16* 



186 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



atre ; but to impress it deeply upon the hearts of 
men, with sentiments of profound and pious vene- 
ration, and to hear his just praises celebrated in 
every age. For this reason they were not willing 
to honour the ashes of Calvin with those splendid 
attentions, of which ambition is so profuse with re- 
spect to others. 

" Let us, however, always remember, that the 
best and most solid praise which we can possibly 
bestow, consists in imitating him whom we praise. 
Thus, let not those who hear me this day be satis- 
fied with simply forming an abstract idea of this 
man of God ; let them represent this model in the 
actions of their lives ; let them not so much stop at 
the person of Calvin, or the picture which they 
have drawn of him, as to be prevented from con- 
templating the Original, Jesus Christ, to whom we 
are bound to refer the whole glory of our discourse. 

" Recall, I entreat you, my illustrious auditors, 
to your remembrance, the great and extraordinary 
labours which exercised the indefatigable spirit of 
our Hercules, and left him scarcely a single mo- 
ment of repose, though his pale and meagre body 
pleaded loudly for relaxation. What the most ro- 
bust of men would not have dared to undertake in 
an age, that great genius happily executed in a 
few years, though the state of his health condemned 
him frequently to languish on a bed of infirmity. 
It has therefore been a subject of surprise to many 
persons, that, during the short time which God 
lent him to the worlds he should have written and 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



187 



published so great a number of works, so volumi- 
nous, and on so great a variety of subjects. But 
if tho£e persons would consider, not so much the 
number and size of his works, as the solidity and 
erudition, the choice and arrangement of subjects, 
the beauty and purity of language, and other ex- 
cellent qualities which appear in every line of his 
works : they would be less surprised that he has 
written so much, than that he has written so well. 
Besides which, if those persons would pay atten- 
tion, not so much to the extraordinary things 
which he has written, as to those which he has 
done, they would perceive that his great soul, over- 
whelmed with a multiplicity of concerns, which 
followed each other like waves of the sea, knew no 
other relief from his labours, than a change of oc- 
cupation. 

" Let them farther contemplate the storm of per- 
secutions which assailed him, and those atrocious 
calumnies which constantly pursued him, and I 
doubt not that they will rise from simple admira- 
tion into wonder. For where is the Argus (if I 
may be permitted to borrow names from heathen 
, fables) who is alone equal to so great a variety of 
occupations? Who could alone arrange them with 
so much wisdom, and execute them with so much 
success.' How many modern Augean stables has 
he not cleansed? What Centaurs has he not over- 
thrown ? How extraordinary then must it appear, 
that the same person who assisted with so much 
assiduity at the holy assemblies appointed for the 



188 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



decision of ecclesiastical affairs, and the examina- 
tion of the doctrine of the preachers, should be 
constantly present in the Consistories established 
for the regulation of morals; — preach daily in the 
temple ; — teach daily in the school; — be consulted 
at all times on the necessities of the republic ; — re- 
ceive and entertain a crowd of visitors, from whom 
his house was scarcely ever free; — and be under 
the necessity of sending every day various des- 
patches to all the countries of Christendom ! 

" We may, indeed, form a better conception of 
it than others. We, who sail in the same vessel ; 
we, whose hand is upon the same rudder; we, who 
sustaining, at the most, only a hundredth part of 
the weight of his labour, seek companions to share 
It with us; we, who notwithstanding this relief, 
complain continually of the weight of the burden 
which oppresses us. This certainly arises from our 
not possessing either his shoulders or his strength. 
Would to God that we might at least imitate his 
ardour, his application, and his diligence ! For 
what is there so difficult, that a great assiduity will 
not overcome ? What obstacles is it not capable 
of surmounting ? We are called studious ; butr 
compared with him, we are idle. I have myself 
been attached to study through life (if I may be 
permitted to speak of myself.) I am occupied ex- 
clusively with the functions of my charge. I add 
a good part of the night to the labours of the day; 
and without wishing for other praises, I dare to 
pretend to that of diligence. Notwithstanding thi% 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



189 



whenever I think of Calvin, I confess that I am 
ashamed of my idleness, and blush at possessing a 
mind so ingenious in flattering my negligence. 
Calvin certainly had not chosen without reason, 
those expressive words which formed his device — 
1 Sincerely and Promptly? We may, perhaps, have 
another opportunity to speak of the first. It is 
sufficient for our present subject to remark now, 
that he has shewn us the second in its highest per- 
fection, in that wonderful promptitude, and incredi- 
ble diligence which he discovered in all his actions. 

" Considering these things, can it be said that 
Calvin lived only a short time, when all the time 
that he lived may, with the strictest propriety, be 
called life ? For neither ambition, avarice, volup- 
tuousness, nor idleness, which rob men of their best 
days, shared any part of his life. Even sleep in- 
terrupted him but little; the other necessities of 
the body still less. He lived longer than those 
persons who pass a long succession of years, ei- 
ther in doing nothing, or in acting contrary to 
their duty. He lived longer than those who, in a 
soft and shameful idleness, rather squander than 
use life. These sort of people die long before their 
last day. He lived a longer life than those who 
pass their eighty or hundred years in eating, 
drinking, and sleeping, without study, but not 
without vice ; and who may be said to be dead 
and buried while they are alive. What advantage, 
I ask, do they derive from so many years passed 
in slothfulness and effeminacy? Life is long when 



190 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



it is husbanded and improved. It must be mea- 
sured by action, and not by time. It is to be va- 
lued by its weight, and not by its duration. For, 
indeed, a single day of the life of a wise man who 
fears God, is of more value than the lengthened 
life of an ignorant and vicious man. Calvin, 
therefore, lived a long time, though he was taken 
from the world in the midst of his course, since he 
never suffered a single hour to escape unemployed ; 
but possessed the address of extending the narrow 
boundaries which God had allotted him, and of 
arresting the course of what is, in its own nature, 
the most rapid of all things. 

" We have, therefore, in the person of Calvin, 
a rich model, not only of a profound and sublime 
knowledge of divine mysteries, and an inimitable 
beauty of composition, but also of assiduous labour 
and prodigious diligence. 

" Nor could he behold, without the most lively 
grief, the vices of his flock, any more than he 
could permit them in himself. 1 If you desire,' 
said he, * to have me for your pastor, correct the 

• disorders of your lives. If you have with since- 

• rity recalled me from my exile, banish the crimes 

• and debauchery which prevail amongst you. I 
1 certainly cannot behold, without the most pain- 
1 ful displeasure, within your walls, discipline trod- 

* den under foot, and crimes committed with impu- 
f nity. I cannot possibly live in a place so grossly 

* immoral. Vicious souls are too filthy to receive 

* the purity of the gospel, and the spiritual worship 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 



191 



4 which I preach to you. A life stained with sin is 

* too contrary to Jesus Christ to be tolerated. I 
4 consider the principal enemies of the gospel to 

* be, — not the Pontiff of Rome, nor heretics, nor 

* seducers, nor tyrants, — but such bad Christians ; 
4 because the former exert their rage out of the 
4 church, while drunkenness, luxury, perjur}', bias- 
' phemy, impurity, adultery, and other abominable 
4 vices overthrow my doctrine, and expose it de- 

* fenceless to the rage of our enemies. Rome does 
4 not constitute the principal object of my fears : 
' still less am I apprehensive from the almost infi- 
4 nite multitude of Monks. The gates of Hell, the 
4 principalities and powers of evil spirits, disturb me 
4 not at all. I tremble on account of other enemies, 
- more dangerous ; and I dread abundantly more, 
4 those carnal covetousnesses, those debaucheries of 
4 the tavern, of the brothel, and of gaming; those 
' infamous remains of ancient superstition, those 
4 mortal pests, the disgrace of your town, and the 
4 shame of the reformed name. Of what impor- 

* tance is it to have driven away the wolves from 
1 the fold, if the pest ravage the flock ? Of what 
' use is a dead faith without good works ? Of 
4 what importance even truth itself, where a wicked 

* life belies it, and actions make words blush ? 
4 Either command me to abandon a second time 
4 your town, and let me go and soften the bitterness 
1 of my afflictions in a new exile, or let the severity 
4 of the laws reign in the church. Re-establish 
4 there the pure discipline. Remove from within 



192 



MEMOIRS OF THE 



* your walls, and from the frontiers of your state, 
c the pest of your vices, and condemn them to a 

£ perpetual banishment.' In these terms spake 

Calvin in the council, when he was recalled by 
the very suffrages which had banished him. A 
convincing proof of the extreme hatred which he 
bore to all descriptions of vices. 

" Since, therefore, it is evident that Calvin has 
no equal for depth of doctrine, for eloquence, for 
erudition, and for diligence ; since he was ever ar- 
dent in detecting and in censuring every kind of 
vice, and exemplary in practising all the virtues 
which he recommended ; since he was never known 
to fail, either in sweetness of manners, or in great- 
ness of courage under trials, or in patience while 
suffering under injuries ; since he was ever admi- 
rable for prudence joined with charity, gravity 
united with affability, severity accompanied with 
benignity, and modesty, which seemed to dispute 
the victory with all his other virtues ; since, final- 
ly, neither imposture, nor envy, nor Antichrist, are 
able to oppose any thing which does not defeat it- 
self, what remains but that we congratulate our 
Geneva upon her happiness in having possessed 
Calvin, recollecting that it is to his cares that she 
is principally indebted for the truth of her Latin 
anagram — 

" Respublica Genevensis, 
Gens sub coelis vere pia !* 



* a The Republic of Geneva, 

A people the most pious under heaven," 



LIFE OF CALVIN. 193 

and that it is to his labours that she is chiefly in- 
debted for the glory of her device, expressed in an 
emblem in the middle of the name of Jesus the Sun 
of Righteousness — 

*'< Apres les tenebres la lumiere.* 

" Abridged from another — 

••' Apres les tenebres, j'espere la lumiere;t 

which had been used, as if by a prophetic spirit, 
during the preceding ages. "J 

* " After darkness, light." 5 

f " After darkness, I hope for light." 

| Panegyrique de Jean Calvin prononce a Geneve, 
par M. Alexandre Morus. Rect'eur de L'Academie. 



17 



194 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



CHAP. VII. 



THE WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



Character of Calvin as an Author and Commenta- 
tor — Testimonies to his Excellence from Papists 
and Protestants — Account of his Christian Insti- 
tutes. 

WE have already portrayed the subject of the 
present Memoirs, in the character of an illustrious 
Reformer, and shewn the influence of his labours 
in promoting the revival of pure Christianity. We 
have seen united in his person, the most entire dis- 
interestedness, the most ardent zeal and active ener- 
gy co-operating to the diffusion of knowledge, vir- 
tue, and happiness: It remains that we now consi- 
der him as an author ; and it will be abundantly 
evident, that few persons have better deserved the 
tributary praises of posterity under this character, 
than Calvin. 

When we consider the extent and variety of his 
works, the importance of the subjects, and the 
practical tendency of his writings, we shall be dis- 
posed to assign him a very high rank in the class 
of useful and important authors. Indebted to no 
temporary or local circumstances for the impression 
and popularity of his works, their interest, unin- 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 195 

fluenced by the fluctuation of circumstances and 
opinions, remains undiminished. What Dr. John- 
son says with so much justice of Watts, is equally 
true of Calvin : — " Few men have left behind such 
purity of character, or such monuments of labo- 
rious piety."* 

His character as an author must be ascertained 
from the multiplicity and variety of his works, ra- 
ther than from any single performance : it would, 
indeed, require volumes to review all his works, 
which were published in Latin, at Geneva, in 
twelve volumes folio. 

But the most important view of the writings of 
Calvin, and that which is most congenial with the 
spirit of the present work, is rather an exhibition 
of his theological sentiments, than a critical review 
of his compositions; which, were it practicable, 
would, in all probability, be less interesting, and 
certainly less profitable. 

Under the investigation of Calvin's merits as an 
author, it would be unpardonable to omit the con- 
sideration of his style. 

The dignity and majesty of his eloquence were 
so eminent, that those who had the greatest aver- 
sion to his pretended heresy, were constrained to 
admire in his writings the exact purity of the La- 
tin tongue, and to confess that his latinity was 
worthy of the Augustan age. Hence, those who 
are willingly blind, refuse to acknowledge that the 



Johnson's Lives of the Poets. Life of Watts. 



196 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



mighty energy by which he replaced Geneva under 
the yoke of Jesus Christ, and recalled multitude? 
of other people to the practice of a purer and more 
evangelical worship, was the effect of the finger of 
God, as undoubtedly it was. They ascribe it, on 
the contrary, to the soft and persuasive eloquence 
which he possessed in so eminent a degree. Thus 
a determined partisan of Popery has not been 
ashamed to use these words : 

" Et toy, Calvin, le fleau du regne a triple etage, 
Qui perds le nom Romain par son propre langage,"* 

Thou, Calvin, the scourge of the triple reign, 
Whose Latin pure destroys the Roman name. 

In this verse he pretends only to praise the elo- 
quence of Calvin: — eloquence indeed! but an elo- 
quence divine, supported by the grandeur and 
weight of its subjects, full of nerve and energy; 
an eloquence, neither gay and comic, like that with 
which Terrence has enriched his fa^es ; nor stately 
and brilliant, like that which Virgil has employed 
to sing the battles and adventures of his heroes ; 
nor delicate and artificial, like that with which 
Cicero enchained the Romans, fastening them to 
his lips ; — but, an eloquence like that of the apostle 
of nations. An eloquence by which this new Paul 
shook the foundations of superb Rome, and reco- 



Barclai, 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



197 



vered from the tyranny of the Vatican, the empire 
of Europe. Calvin imitated St. Paul, as St. Paul 
imitated Jesus Christ. Animated with an aposto- 
lic spirit, he despised the flowers and brilliancies 
of human eloquence, and all the pompous equipage 
of the rhetoric of the age. His strain, flowing 
with soft and sober majesty, seemed to be adapted 
to sacred things alone. 

He had alread}' displayed some sparks of this 
light, when not having yet " chosen the good part," 
he employed some of his leisure hours in enriching 
with notes, the books which Seneca has composed 
on Clemency, and dedicated to the most cruel of 
emperors. In this essay, he announced what might 
be expected in future. His Commentaries display 
a style, free, but exact, agreeable, and majestic; 
simple and energetic, but pure and polished; mo- 
dest, but rich ; brilliant, but natural ; deriving all 
its beauties from their proper sources. So that 
Seneca appears risen from the dead. 

The vivacity and energy of his genius are con- 
spicuous in his attacks upon the enemies of truth. 
With what evidence and solidity he establishes his 
reasonings! How nobly he enriches his subjects, 
while at the same time there is neither any affecta- 
tion, nor any smell of the lamp ! His stream of 
mind appears to be perpetual, and pursues its course 
with equal beauty and fertility. Whoever wishes 
to be acquainted with the force and beauty of his 
style, will find an excellent specimen in his answer 
17* 



198 WRITINGS OF CALVIN* 



to Cardinal Sadolet. The dedication of his In- 
stitutes to Francis I. is also universally admired.* 

It is no small honour to Calvin, that the circum- 
stance of being born in the later ages of Chris- 
tianity detracts nothing from his reputation. Should 
we here be opposed by the names of Austin and of 
Chrysostom, we may safely reply, that if Calvin 
had been born in the age of the fathers, he would 
have been one of the most eminent. Abating that 
veneration which is excited by antiquity, our au- 
thor, it is apprehended, will not suffer by a com- 
parison with these illustrious fathers. To say no- 
thing of the errors into which the ancient fathers 
have fallen, it is sufficiently evident, that with re- 
spect to an extended apprehension of the mysteries 
of Divine truth, Calvin has surpassed them all. 

Should this praise be charged with being exag- 
gerated, we refer, for a corroboration of it, to a 
comparative view of the writings of the respective 
authors. St. Chrysostom has explained the Psalms. 



* " I have ever thought that the three celebrated Pre- 
faces, that which the President de Thou wrote for his His- 
tory, that which Casaubon has prefixed to his Polvbius, 
and that which Calvin has addressed to Francis I. king 
of France, in favour of his Christian Institutes, must be 
considered as the masterpieces of our age. And in placing 
that of Calvin in the first rank, it appears to me that not 
only the sublimity and grandeur of the subject, but also 
the excellence and beauty, the force and solidity, the 
purity and elegance of the composition, oblige me to give 
it this preference." — Panegyriqtie de Calvin, par Ms 
Alexandre Morus. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 199 



St. Austin has also written upon them. Calvin, 
after them, has composed Commentaries upon 
them. To this comparison we refer the claims of 
Calvin, persuaded that every candid mind will in- 
stantly perceive the superiority of the Reformer; 
and that the Preface to his Commentary on the 
Psalms is alone worth their whole works. What 
father of the church has left behind him so com- 
plete an explication of all the books of sacred 
scripture, with the exception only of the closing 
Book of the Revelation? " Joseph Scaliger, who 
scarcely thought any man worth his commending, 
could not forbear admiring Calvin ; and he praised 
him, among other things, for not commenting on 
the Revelations ; while he owned him far the hap- 
piest of all the commentators in apprehending the 
sense of the prophets."* And Pasquier says, 
" Calvin was a good writer, both in Latin and 
French ; and our French tongue is highly obliged 
to him for enriching it with so great a number of 
fine expressions." f 

The great Thuanus, in his admirable History, 
though a Papist, speaks highly of his eloquence : 
— " Calvin," says he, " was endued with ^great 
acuteness and force of genius, and with a wonder- 
ful faculty of eloquence ; a very celebrated divine 
among the Protestants." 

" If, in obedience to the impression made by a 
recent study of the life and writings of Calvin, we 



* Bayle. 



t Biographia Evangelica. 



200 



WRITINGS OF CALVI>\ 



have sketched a too flattering outline of his mora) 
lineaments, the dissatisfied spectator may wander 
from our exhibition to examine a portrait drawn 
by a Raphael of the Anglican church in the six- 
teenth century, — a portrait familiar to all who 
have walked and studied in the galleries and 
schools of that church; and, whether faithful or 
otherwise, deriving every claim to patient and im- 
partial criticism from its having proceeded from 
the pencil of the great and accredited apologist of 
our ecclesiastical polity."* 

"A founder it had," (referring to the Genevese 
discipline established by Calvin,) " whom, for mine 
own part, I think incomparably the wisest man 
that ever the French church did enjoy, since the 
hour it enjoyed him. His bringing up was in the 
study of the civil law\ Divine knowledge he ga- 
thered not by hearing or reading, so much as by 
teaching others. For though thousands were debt- 
ors to him, as touching knowledge in that kind, 
yet he to none, but only to .God, the author of that 
most blessed fountain, the Book of Life, and of the 
admirable dexterity of wit, together with the helps 
of other learning which were his guides." — " Two 
things of principal moment there are which have 
deservedly procured him honour throughout the 
world : the one, his exceeding pains in composing 
the Institutions of the Christian Religion; the 

* Christian Observer. — Review of Life and Institutes 
of Calvin, by Mackenzie and Allen. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



201 



other, his no less industrious travels for exposition 
of Holy Scripture, according to the same institu- 
tions. In which two things, whosoever they were 
that after him bestowed their labour, he gained the 
advantage of prejudice against them, if they gain- 
sayed ; and of glory above them, if they consented. 
Of what account the master of sentences was in 
the church of Rome, the same and more amongst 
the preachers of reformed churches, Calvin had 
purchased ; so that the perfectest divines were 
judged they who were skilfullest in Calvin's wri- 
tings ; his books being almost the very canon to 
judge both doctrine and discipline by." * 

" Is it true or credible that the man thus cha- 
racterized by Hooker, at the very time when he 
was constructing his immortal work against the 
Genevese discipline, is the same individual whom 
the majority of modern divines would almost ex- 
communicate from the family and fellowship of Je- 
sus Christ ? Is this he whom the veriest menials of 
the Protestant hierarchy, whom our very vergers 
and apparitors find themselves able to refute with 
a sneer, while their superiors are stultifying him in 
the paragraphs of a pamphlet ?"f 

In Dr. Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History the fol- 
lowing paragraph and note are added to the origi- 
nal text of Mosheim, by his translator, the highly 



* Hooker's Works, .vol. I. pp. 129. 138. f Oxford, 
1793.) 
f Christian Observer. 



202" 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



respectable editor, Dr. Maclaine : — " To escape the 
impending storm, he retired to Basil, where he 
published his Christian Institutions; and prefixed 
to them that famous dedication to Francis I. which 
has attracted universally the admiration of succeed- 
ing ages, and which was designed to soften the un- 
relenting fury of that prince against the Protes- 
tants."* 

Salmeron has copied, in his commentaries, seve- 
ral passages from Calvin, without citing or changing 
them. Melancthon calls Calvin the Theologian. 

He received the praises of all the great men of 
his age. It is well known that Albert Pighius, 
who had undertaken the refutation of the Christian 
Institutes of Calvin, became a Calvinist in one of 
his principal doctrines. 

Papyre Masson, a declared enemy of the Protes- 
tants, De Thou, Pasquier, Balzac, Stapleton, and 
Father Simon, consider Calvin a very learned man, 
and a great Theologian. Nor was he held in less 
veneration by the brightest ornaments of the church 
of England. Witness the exalted testimonies given 



* " This paragraph, relating to Calvin, is added to 
Dr. Mosheim's text by the translator, who was surprised 
to find in a History of the Reformation, such late mention 
made of one of its most distinguished and remarkable in- 
struments; a man whose extensive genius, flowing elo- 
quence, immense learning, extraordinary penetration, in- 
defatigable industry, and fervent piety, placed him at the 
head of the reformers ; all of whom he surpassed at least 
in learning and parts.' 7 



i 

WRITINGS ©F CALVIN. £03 

of him by Bishop Andrews, Bishop Bilson, Mr, 
Hooker, Bishop Morton, Bishop Stillingfleet, and 
many others, cited by Dr. John Edwards, in his 
Veritas Redux. 

There are many among the Roman Catholics, 
who would do justice to Calvin, if they durst speak 
their thoughts. Guy Patin has taught us to make 
this judgment ; for he observed, that "Joseph Sea- 
liger said Calvin was the greatest wit the world had 
seen since the apostles. He acknowledged that no 
man ever understood ecclesiastical history like 
Calvin, who, at the age of twenty-two, was the 
most learned man in Europe."* It appears also, 
that " Scaliger preferred Calvin's Commentary on 
Daniel, to all others, and that he used commonly 
to say, solus Calvinus in Theologicis."-f Guy Patin 
tells us, that "John de Monluc, Bishop of Valence, 
used to say, that Calvin was the greatest divine in 
Europe." 

When we consider that he has written Commen- 
taries on the whole of the Scriptures, the Book of 
Revelation excepted, we shall easily imagine that 
they form by far the most considerable part of his 
works. These Commentaries will ever be held in 
esteem by impartial readers, for the elegant sim- 
plicity, impartial inquiry, and profound piety which 
characterize them. In a style admirably adapted 
and expressive, he expands without enfeebling, il- 



* Biographia Britannica. 

f Histoire Litteraire de Geneve, par Jean Senebier. 



204 



WRITINGS GF CALVIN. 



lustrates without lowering, and enforces without 
revolting the sense of the sacred text. Deeply im- 
pressed with the dignity and excellency, the divine 
authority and various uses, of the inspired writings, 
he investigates their contents with a disciplined un- 
derstanding, and an obedient heart. His mind re- 
volts not at the mysterious sublimity of a doctrine, 
when he has evidence that it comes from God. No 
command appears tyrannical, because he venerates 
the authority which enjoins it ; no precept irksome, 
because his heart, constrained by the love of Christ, 
dictates the inquiry, " Lord, what wouldst thou 
have me do f 99 Superior to all considerations of 
a party nature, his expositions are truly liberal, 
and he is not afraid to meet the real sense of a pas- 
sage. Having in view nothing less than the edifi- 
cation of the Church Universal, his Commentaries 
breathe a comprehensiveness of design, resembling 
the liberality of the Sacred Writings themselves. 
It is not, however, to be denied, that his views on 
discipline and doctrine were fixed and decided ; 
but it is equally evident that, in comparison with 
the general interests of genuine Christianity, he al- 
lowed himself to feel no concern about the disputed 
points of religion. 

It requires but little penetration to perceive that 
the great object of Calvin, in all his Commentaries, 
was the simple illustration of the sacred text. Dis- 
avowing all authority but that of the Scriptures, 
and calling no man Master on earth, his investiga- 
tions were conducted with that spirit of free inquiry 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



205 



and independence, which is essential to the charac- 
ter and excellence of the commentator. Forming 
his system from the Bible, he felt no difficulty with 
regard to apparently conflicting passages of sacred 
writ ; which he was not at all concerned to recon- 
cile with a previously assumed system. 

Though Calvin was extensively known and read 
as a commentator, the work which did him most 
honour, and procured him the greatest celebrity, 
was his " Christian Institutions a work written 
in defence of the Protestants, and intended by its 
author to be a complete system of theology. 

The Inquisitions at Rome, and in Spain, con- 
demned this work : but it met with great accepta- 
tion, and has not only appeared in French, but also 
in High Dutch, Low Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and 
English. And the following celebrated distich 
contains the character which it bore among his 
contemporaries of the reformed religion : 

u Praeter apostolicas, post Christi tempora chartas, 
Huic peperere libro ssecula nulla parem."* 

The sentiments of Calvin being very imperfectly 
understood, even by Calvinists themselves, it may 
perhaps answer a useful purpose to lay before the 
public a view of genuine Calvinism. 

This object, it is apprehended, will be best ac- 
complished by laying before the reader some co- 

# That is, — " Since the ascension of Christ, no age 
has produced a book of equal worth, if we omit the 
writings of the apostles." 

18 



206 WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 

pious extracts from the " Christian Institutions," 
which contain an arranged statement of this Re- 
former's views on the doctrines and discipline of 
Christianity. It is a just character of this work, 
that nothing calculated to recommend a book is 
wanting to it. The perspicuity so much required 
of authors, is here as great as it can possibly be. 
There is nothing to embarrass the reader. Every 
thing is explained with perfect evidence. Whether 
it be necessary to establish holy doctrines, or to re- 
fute error, Calvin accomplishes it with a depth and 
solidity, united with a vivacity and address inimita- 
ble. The comparisons which he employs are beau- 
tiful and majestic, and at the same time so lively 
and ingenious, that they give a palpable evidence 
to his explanations and persuasions. The descrip- 
tions with which his work abounds, are not less just 
than magnificent, always adapted to the subjects he 
is treating, and the situations which they occupy. 
His transitions are every where easy and natural.* 
This incomparable work is divided into four 
books. The first book, containing eighteen chap- 
ters, treats Of the Knowledge of God the Creator, 
The second, Of the Knowledge of God as he hath 
declaimed himself our Redeemer in Jesus Christ — 
seventeen chapters. The third, Of the manner of 
participating of the Grace of Jesus Christ, of the 
Fruits which we derive from it, and the Effects which 
it produces — twenty-five chapters. The fourth, and 



* Epitre Dedicatoire, par Charles Icard. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 207 



last, treats Of the external means or helps which 
God employs to invite us to Jesus Christ his Son, and 
to retain us in his Communion — twenty chapters. 

" A leading excellence of Calvin's body of di- 
vinity appears to us to be this, that every doctrine 
is considered as a principle, and not as a mere sen- 
timent; and that every application of such doc- 
trine is not addressed in certain general and indis- 
tinct terms to the Christian community at large, 
but rendered personal and individual. Far from 
suffering any article of the creed to sleep in the un- 
derstanding as a quiescent theory, one practical in- 
quiry is found to be perpetually emerging from the 
deeps of argumentation. The student is constantly 
excited to inquire, what should be the fruit of all 
this discussion ; the living daily consequence to him- 
self. On this account, there is some difficulty in 
supposing that the study of the undisputed points 
of the gospel, in the writings of this divine, can be 
attractive to any but those who are afraid of giving 
a cold and unproductive assent to the faith of Jesus 
Christ; who are afraid of lowering into intellectual 
speculation, what ought to form the lives, and spi- 
ritualize the souls of immortals ; and who, instead 
of consuming their days in efforts to measure what 
no efforts of theirs can measure, are anxious to un- 
derstand what is intelligible, and what is necessary 
to their salvation. It should be observed, in com- 
mon justice to Calvin, that his very highest notions 
of absolute decrees are, by his own representations. 



V 



208 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



as entirely practical in their results as any opinion 
gathered from ' the Decalogue; that he himself 
would be the last man to defend the religion of a 
licentious predestinarian ; nay, that he would utterly 
deny any such character to be possessed of a par- 
ticle of genuine faith ; but, on the contrary, would 
view him as a practical Atheist, whose speculations 
about grace were only a species of more elaborate 
blasphemy." 

" Another excellence of the Institutes consists in 
their author's uniform appeal to the decisions of 
scripture. " To this infallible guide he resorted; 
and, if he misunderstood, darkened, or perverted 
what he found in the Bible, he uniformly says, 
4 There is my doctrine, and here is its authority;' 
than which nothing can be a more simple and Chris- 
tian method of proceeding. It is referring the ob- 
jector from the deduction to the principle, and in- 
viting him to examine, not only the process of the 
reasoner's logic, but the truth of the premises with 
which he sets out, and of the conclusions at which 
he arrives. How different is this appeal to the 
common standard of the Christian world, from the 
fides carhonaria of such Papists, or papal Protest- 
ants, as grope' in voluntary darkness amidst the 
noon-day blaze of revelation!" 

44 A Catholic collier was once asked, — 4 What do 
you believe?' What the church believes.—- 1 And 
what does the church believe ?' What I believe. — 
6 And what do you both believe ?' Why we both be* 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 209 

lieve the same thing. — Hence the expression, fides 
carbon-aria, i. e. the faith of a collier."* 



On the Knowledge of a God— This Knowledge 
greatly corrupted. 

On the knowledge of a God, the subject with 
which this incomparable work commences, we meet 
with the following judicious remarks : — " By the 
knowledge of a God. I understand a knowledge 
which not only enables us to conceive that there 
is a God, but which also teaches us whatever it is 
important for us to know, with reference either to 
our own interest or to his glory. For to speak 
correctly, we cannot say that God is known where 
there is neither piety nor religion. I am not here 
speaking of that peculiar knowledge, by means of 
which men, lost and condemned in a state of na- 
ture, are led to God, as to their Redeemer in Je- 
sus Christ: I speak merely of that primitive and 
simple knowledge, to which the natural order of 
the world would lead us, had Adam continued in 
his integrity. For although in this universal wreck 
of human nature, no person knows God, either as 
a Father, or as the author of salvation, or in any 
sense propitious, or appeased, unless Jesus Christ 



* Christian Observer. Review of Life and Institutes 
of Calvin. By Mackenzie and Allen. 

18* 



210 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN, 



intervene as Mediator to render him favourable to 
us, and to reconcile us to him; nevertheless, to 
know God as our Creator, and as that Being who 
sustains us by his influence, who governs us by 
his providence, who preserves us by his goodness, 
and who loads us with his blessings ; to know him, 
I say, thus, is a very different thing from embracing 
the blessing of reconciliation, as it is offered to us 
through Jesus Christ in the gospel. 

" And as our mind is incapable of rising to the 
knowledge of a God, without ascribing to him some 
kind of worship, it is not, however, sufficient to 
know in general, that it is he alone who deserves 
to be adored and served, if we are not besides 
firmly persuaded that he is the source of all good, 
so as not to seek any thing separately from him. 
Thus, I think that we ought not only to believe 
that God, having created the world, sustains it by 
his power, rules it by his. wisdom, preserves it by 
his goodness, and is especially engaged in govern- 
ing the human race with equity, in supporting 
them by his mercy, in taking them under his pro- 
tection;, but we must also be persuaded that there 
is not a single spark of light, of wisdom, of justice, 
of power, of rectitude, or of truth to be found any 
where but in him, or proceeding from him, and of 
which he is not the cause ; which should instruct 
us to expect them all from him alone, to solicit 
them all at his hands, and to return him our un- 
feigned thanks when we have received them. I 
consider piety as a mingled reverence and love of 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



211 



God, to which we are led by a knowledge of the 
favour which we have received from him. If men 
do not, indeed, feel and acknowledge that they owe 
every thing to God, that they are tenderly pre- 
served by his paternal care, and that he is the au- 
thor of all good, so that they need not seek any 
thing out of him ; if they do not make all their fe- 
licity to consist in him alone, they will never ren- 
der him a willing obedience, nor will they ever 
frankly and heartily submit to render unto him the 
service which is his due."* 

How differently is this interesting subject here 
treated, from the manner in" which philosophers 
have speculated upon the being and perfections of 
a God ! For this pre-eminence in clearness and in- 
terest, our author was certainly indebted to revela- , 
tion, an authority to which he bowed with the most 
implicit reverence, and a source of information 
which has enlightened and enriched the Christian 
world with knowledge on subjects of the last im- 
portance to the present and perpetual interests of 
mankind. 

That the knowledge of a God is naturally im- 
printed in the mind of man, is maintained by our 
author, in the following words : — " Lest any should 
cloak themselves under a vain pretext of ignorance, 
God hath engraved on the hearts of all men, some 
knowledge of himself, with which he continually 
refreshes the memory by new sparks of light, which 



* Instit. lib. i. cap. 2. 



212 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN* 



he causes to shine there from time to time ; that all 
men, without exception, may be condemned by 
their own testimony, for not having honoured and 
served him by consecrating their lives in obedi- 
ence to him. If ignorance of a God were any 
where to be found, we should naturally expect to 
meet with it amongst those barbarous nations, en- 
tirely removed from honesty, from civilization, and 
from humanity itself; nor could we produce an 
example more appropriate or precise. However, 
as Cicero, that ancient Pagan author, so celebra- 
ted for his eloquence, remarks, 1 There is no na- 
tion so barbarous, nor any people so savage, upon 
whose minds it is not forcibly impressed, that there 
is a God.' And those who in every thing else, 
appear to differ in no respects from beasts, do not, 
however, fail to retain some seeds of religion. So 
extensively hath this common and natural prepos- 
session pervaded the minds of all men. 

" Thus, since from the beginning of the world 
there never was any country, town, or family, that 
could dispense with religion, does it not amount 
to a tacit confession of the whole human race, that 
the belief of a Divinity is engraved on the hearts 
of all reasonable creatures? Idolatry itself, into 
which men have fallen, is an authentic testimony to 
this truth. For we know with what reluctance 
man stoops and humbles himself to place other 
creatures above himself. Since, then, he rather 
submits to serve and to adore wood and stone, than 
to pass for an impious person or an atheist, it follows 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



213 



evidently, that the impression is lively and strong, 
that it can never be effaced, and that it would even 
be easier to extinguish the most natural affections, 
than the sentiment of piety and of religion."* 

While it is true that the excellency of an argu- 
ment, or the goodness of a cause, ought never to 
be concluded from the numbers by which they may 
happen to be supported ; it is nevertheless certain, 
that in some cases, universal consent furnishes the 
strongest presumptive evidence of the truth and 
importance of general principles. Thus, the vari- 
ous worship of the heathen nations, uncongenial 
indeed with the dictates of reason, and incompati- 
ble with the more luminous institutions of the gos- 
pel, contains an implicit acknowledgment of the 
responsibility of all intelligent beings, and of the 
existence and operation of natural -conscience, 
which, in the absence of revelation, is considered 
by the apostle as the present law, and future rule 
of judgment of the heathen. It is possible, and 
indeed to a high degree probable, that the rites and 
ceremonies of most heathen nations owe their origin 
to the institutions of the Mosaic dispensation, of 
which they are only corruptions gradually intro- 
duced ; but their adoption and continued use, as 
they include the recognition of a Supreme Being', 
and a sense of human responsibility, while they il- 
lustrate the congeniality of these truths, with the 
undisguised feelings of the human mind, contain 



* Instit lib. i. cap. 3. 



214 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



also the authority of a sanction, as well as the evi- 
dence of an unsuspicious consent. 

But while the existence of this sentiment, being 
universal, is too obvious to be denied, it is equally 
evident that it exists under a most degraded form ; a 
truth which our author asserts in the following ex- 
pressive words: — " As experience shews us on the 
one hand that there is in the hearts of all men a seed 
of religion, which the Divinity hath scattered there 
with his own hand ; so it teaches us also on the 
other hand, that scarcely one person in a hundred 
encourages this divine seed in his soul, to make it 
germinate there. For while some are bewildered in 
the follies of superstition, and others abandon God 
with a formal design and deliberate malice, from 
various motives all wander and retire from the true 
knowledge of him. This is also the reason why 
we meet with no legitimate or well regulated 
piety."* 

In the sixth chapter our author contends, that in 
order to arrive at the knowledge of God as a Cre- 
ator, we must make the Scriptures our guide ; in 
illustration of which, he employs the following rea- 
soning:—" Although that light which is so univer- 
sally diffused, is more than sufficient to remove every 
pretext for the ingratitude of men; it is, notwith- 
standing, necessary, that a more powerful help in- 
tervene to lead us suitably even to the Creator. It 
is not, therefore, in vain, that God, in order to 



* Instit. lib. i. cap. 4. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



215 



make himself known in a saving manner, hath 
added to the works of creation the light of his word, 
and that he hath indulged with this prerogative 
those whom he determined to treat with more fami- 
liarity than others. Having elected the Jews, in 
order to make of them a peculiar people conse- 
crated to his service, he enclosed them in a fold, 
lest they should wander after the manner of other 
nations. Thus, whether God manifested himself 
to the ancient fathers, by means of oracles, or of 
heavenly visions, or employed men by whose mi- 
nistry he suggested what they were to # convey by 
tradition to their posterity, it is absolutely certain 
that he impressed upon their minds so firm a belief 
of his doctrine, that they were fully convinced, that 
what was revealed or preached to them, came from 
heaven alone. But, that his doctrine might ever 
continue in the world, and be maintained in its 
purity in all ages, he appointed that those oracles 
which he had from the beginning committed to the 
tradition of men, should be at length reduced to 
writing, and enclosed in the Scriptures, as in a sa- 
cred cabinet, in which the precious deposit might 
be preserved entire, in the midst of those changes 
and confusions which are continually taking place 
throughout the universe. With this view he caused 
his law to be published amongst the Israelites, to 
which he afterwards added the writings of the pro- 
phets, as so many interpretations of his will. 

iC If we consider how inconsistent and variable 
is the mind of man, how easily he falls into forget- 



216 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



fulness of God, how great is his natural inclination 
to embrace all sorts of errors, and how strong his 
passion for new and false religions, it will be evi- 
dent how necessary it is that God should have 
public and authentic registers, in which the whole 
of his salutary doctrine might be contained, lest it 
should be either buried in forgetfulness, or over- 
turned by error, or corrupted by the audacity of 
men."* 



Of the State in which Man was created. 

The state in which man was originally created, 
is a subject which has given rise to a great variety 
of speculation and controversy ; and it must strike 
every impartial person, that in the management of 
this interesting inquiry, barren speculation, and in 
some instances a tendency to levity, have been too 
apparent in many writers, who have, notwithstand- 
ing, professed to limit their inquiries by ultimate 
views of scripture authority. The manner in which 
our author pursues the subject, is in unison with 
his grand and comprehensive views of scripture 
truth in general. Those who study theology with 
a reference to practical improvement, will be gra- 
tified with the useful manner in which this great 
theologian treats so interesting a subject. " We 



* Instit. lib. i. cap. 6. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



217 



must now speak," says he, " of the creation of 
man;— First, because man is the most noble and 
excellent master-piece of the wisdom and good- 
ness of God; and, secondly, because, as we have 
already said, we can have no true and solid know- 
ledge of the Divinity, if the knowledge of ourselves 
be not reciprocally connected with it. Now this 
knowledge of ourselves is twofold, and consists in 
knowing, — first, the manner in which we were ori^ 
ginally formed ; and, secondly, into what misery 
we fell, after the lapse of our first father : for, in- 
deed, we should derive little advantage from our 
creation, if in that sad and fatal ruin into which 
we have precipitated ourselves, we were not to 
perceive the corruption and deformity of our na- 
ture. We shall, however, now consider the state of 
innocence in which we were created. 

" Previously, however, to the examination of 
that miserable condition to which man is subjected 
by his revolt, it is essential to know what he was 
when first created. And here it will be proper to 
use caution, that in representing too minutely the 
natural evils of man, we do not impute them to the 
author of his nature. For impiety will endeavour 
to shelter itself under the pretext, that all evil pro- 
ceeds in some manner from God. Those persons 
even, who wish to pass in the world for religious 
characters, and who speak of the Divinity in more 
respectful terms, attempt thus to excuse their sins. 
They allege the corruption of their nature, without 
considering that they tarnish by this means, though 
19 



218 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



in an indirect manner, the honour of God, whose 
glory would be covered with reproach, if in the 
nature which he gave originally to man there had 
been any vice or imperfection. 

" We must, however, remark, that Adam was 
formed of the earth, to keep him from indulging 
pride, and rising above his condition. For since 
we inhabit houses of clay, and are but dust and 
ashes, how apparent is the folly of boasting of the 
excellency of our nature!"* 



On the Immortality of the Soul. 

On the immortality of the soul, — a doctrine, 
which, while it confers upon a future state all its 
interesting attractions, diminishes in proportion the 
temporary and evanescent gratifications of the pre- 
sent, — our author uses the following just and ex- 
pressive language : — " That there are in man two 
different parts, a soul and a body, is evident be- 
yond the smallest doubt. By the word Soul, I un- 
derstand, an immortal, but created essence, the 
most noble and excellent part of human nature, 
and which the Scriptures sometimes call Spirit. 
For though these two names when joined together 
have a different signification, the word spirit, when 
used separately, has the same import as that of soul ; 



* Instit. lib. i. cap. 15. 



\ 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



219 



as when Solomon, speaking of death, says, t Then 
shall the spirit return unto God who gave it.' And 
Jesus Christ, by commending his spirit to God his 
Father, (as well as Stephen to Jesus Christ,) in- 
tends simply, that when the soul quits the prison of 
the body, God is its guardian and depositary. 

" As to those who imagine that the soul is thus 
called spirit, because it is simply a breath, or a vi- 
gour divinely infused into the body, without having 
in itself any substance, the truth of the thing itself, 
and the Scriptures at large, evidently shew how 
grossly they impose upon themselves. The con- 
science, by distinguishing between good and evil, 
corresponding to the judgment of God, furnishes 
a certain and infallible proof that the spirit is im- 
mortal. For how should a simple motion, without 
essence, penetrate even to the tribunal of God, and 
alarm us on account of the condemnation which we 
have merited ? Can the body be susceptible of the 
fear of a spiritual punishment? Who does not per- 
ceive that such a sentiment belongs to the soul 
alone ? From whence it follows clearly, that the 
soul is neither without essence, nor a particular 
subsistence. 

" Secondly, the knowledge which we have of 
God, testifies that the soul which rises above the 
world, must be immortal. For, can a feeble in- 
spiration without subsistence,, a vigour capable of 
becoming extinct and of vanishing, be considered 
as capable of rising to the source of life? Indeed, 
so many rare and excellent qualities, with which 



220 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



the human soul is ornamented, and which clearly 
shew that there are I know not what characters of 
divinity deeply impressed upon it, are also evident 
testimonies of its immortality. For the instinct of 
brutes is limited to their bodies, or extends no far- 
ther than the objects which present themselves to 
their sensuality. But the activity of the human 
spirit, which traverses heaven and earth, — pene- 
trates into the secrets of nature, and after having 
embraced all the varieties of the universe in its un- 
derstanding and memory, disposes each of them 
in its order, and according to its rank, and ascer- 
tains things future from those which are passed, — 
shews evidently that there is in man a secret and 
hidden quality distinct and different from his body. 
By our understanding, we conceive of God, and of 
angels, who are spiritual and invisible substances, 
which in no respect applies to the body. We dis- 
tinguish what is right, just, and honest, from what 
is not so, which our corporal senses are incapable 
of ; the mind must, therefore, be the seat where 
this intelligence resides. Even sleep itself, the em- 
blem of death, is an express witness of the immor- 
tality of the soul. For it not only suggests thoughts 
and conceptions of what has never taken place, but 
affords also presentiments and presages of things 
yet to come. I briefly touch these subjects, which 
profane writers have set off with magnificence and 
exquisite eloquence; but it is sufficient simply to 
indicate them to Christian readers. 

" Besides which, if the soul, separated from the 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



221 



body, had no subsistence, the Scriptures would not 
teach us, as they do, that we dwell in houses of 
clay, and that man at death is unclothed of mor- 
tality, and will receive, at the last day, that which 
is due to the good or bad actions done in the body. 
Now these passages, and others of the same kind, 
which are very numerous, not only distinguish the 
soul from the body, but in attributing to it the 
name of man in general, they also declare the soul 
to be the principal part. St. Paul, exhorting the 
faithful to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of 
flesh and of spirit, refers without hesitation to two 
subjects, in which the pollutions of sin reside. St. 
Peter also, calling Jesus Christ the Shepherd and 
Bishop of souls, would have spoken unadvisedly 
if there were no souls towards whom he exercised 
such a function. 

" What he says also of the salvation of our souls 
would be ill founded, as well as what he commands 
us — ' As strangers and pilgrims, to abstain from 
fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.' The 
same remark applies to what we read in the Epis- 
tle to the Hebrews, that, pastors watch for our souls 
as they that must give account; which would in 
no respect be suitable, if souls possessed no exist- 
ence proper to them. 

" This is more fully and more clearly expressed 
in those words of Jesus Christ, in which he com- 
mands us to < fear him, who, after having killed the 
body, is able also to cast soul and body into hell.' 
Add to this, that if souls delivered from the fetters 
19* 



222 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



of the body, had no subsistence after that separa- 
tion, it is with great impropriety that Jesus Christ 
represents the soul of Lazarus as enjoying repose 
and felicity in Abraham's bosom ; and on the con- 
trary, that of the rich man as plunged in the tor- 
ments of hell. But not to insist any longer upon 
a thing so little doubtful, I shall only add that St. 
Luke places it among the errors of the Sadduceans, 
that they believed, that there was no resurrection, 
nor angel, nor spirit"* 



The Sentiments of Calvin on the Moral Law. 

The sentiments of Calvin, with reference to the 
law, having in modern times been considerably per- 
verted, it may answer a useful purpose to produce 
his own words on the subject; which, as they will 
appear decidedly opposed to the Antinomian he- 
resy, will deprive its abettors of the sanction of his 
name. On the dignity and use of the law, no wri- 
ter can have more just sentiments, as will fully ap- 
pear by extracts from his writings on the subject. 

" It will not be difficult," he observes, " to judge, 
to what end the law ought to be referred, which is 
that of a perfect righteousness ; that man may take 
the purity and holiness of God for the rule of life. 
For God has so portrayed his nature in the law, 



* Instit. lib. i. cap. 15. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 223 



that if any person were to accomplish all that it 
commands, his life would be an image of the Di- 
vinity. On which account, Moses, desirous of im- 
pressing the minds of the Israelites with the remem- 
brance of the commandments of God, thus ad- 
dresses them : 1 And now, Israel, what doth the 
Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord 
thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, 
and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, 
and with all thy soul?' Nor did he fail to repeat 
the same thing whenever he wished to shew them 
the tendency of the law. The end, therefore, of 
the law is to unite man by holiness of life to his 
Creator ; and, as Moses in another place expresses 
it, to induce him to cleave unto him. The perfec- 
tion of this holiness consists in two things, which 
have been already noticed ; that we love the Lord 
our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and 
with all our strength — and our neighbour as our- 
selves. The first implies then, that our soul be 
filled with the love of God; from whence will na- 
turally flow charity towards our neighbour. In 
this sense I understand the apostle, where he says, 
that 4 the end of the commandment is charity out of 
a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith un- 
feigned where we see that a good conscience and 
faith, that is to say, piety, and the fear of God, is 
placed in the first rank, from whence springs cha- 
rity. 

" It is, therefore, absurd to imagine that the law 
teaches only the rudiments of righteousness, and 



224 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



gives men only the first elements, without direct- 
ing them to the perfection of good works ; since it 
is not possible to desire a higher perfection than 
that which is comprehended in this passage of Mo- 
ses, and that of St. Paul. And indeed, he who is 
dissatisfied with such teaching, what more excellent 
or more perfect aim can he have, since the instruc- 
tion of the law forms man to the fear of God, to 
the spiritual worship of his majesty, to the obser- 
vance of his precepts, to the rectitude of his justice, 
to the holiness of his ways, to purity of conscience, 
to sincerity of faith, and, indeed, to all the duties 
of charity. 

"And this reason confirms the explanation which 
we have given, in reducing to the commandments 
of the law, all the duties which respect piety or 
charity. So that those who stop at I know not 
what dry and barren elements, as if the law taught 
the will of God only by halves, do not thoroughly 
understand, according to the testimony of the apos- 
tle, the end to which it refers."* 

" It is easy to perceive what we ought to learn 
from the law, that God, being our Creator, stands 
related to us as our Lord and our Father; on 
which account we ought to render the glory, reve- 
rence, love, and fear, due unto him ; that we are 
not at liberty to follow the wanderings of our mind, 
and the disorderly propensities of our hearts, where- 
ever they would lead us ; that we depend so en- 



* Instit. lib. ii. cap. 8. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



225 



tirely upon God, that we ought to devote ourselves 
exclusively to what is pleasing unto him; that 
righteousness and integrity are ever acceptable 
unto him; that, on the contrary, iniquity and in- 
justice are held in abomination by him. So that, 
if we would not by an impious and profane ingra- 
titude, revolt from our Creator, we must through- 
out the whole of our days, love righteousness, and 
apply ourselves to the performance of its duties. 
Nor can man excuse himself under the pretext of 
incompetency, and of being a miserable debtor, 
unable to make any payment. For it is by no 
means proper to measure the glory of God by the 
faculties of our nature ; since whatever we may be, 
God is ever like himself, always the friend of righ- 
teousness, as he is always the enemy of iniquity. 
Whatever he requires of us, since he can require 
nothing unjust, it is evident that we are under a 
necessity of obeying him by a natural obligation, 
and that our incapability proceeds from no other 
cause than our vicious corruption. 

" When by means of the teachings of the law, 
we have arrived at this knowledge, we must then, 
under the conduct of this legal doctrine, descend 
into ourselves. From which we shall derive two 
advantages: — First, by comparing the righteous- 
ness of the law with our own lives, we shall per- 
ceive that we are infinitely distant from satisfying 
the will of God; and that we are consequently un- 
worthy of being of the number of his creatures, 
and especially of deserving to bear the glorious 



226 



WRITINGS OF CAtVIN. 



title of his children. Farther, by considering our 
powers, we shall be convinced, not only that they 
are insufficient to fulfil the requirements of the law, 
but absolutely null and incapable of such an effect. 
From whence proceeds necessarily a jealousy of 
ourselves, followed by terrible inquietudes. For 
conscience is no sooner convinced of sin, than the 
judgment of God immediately presents itself, and 
the judgment of God felt, is always accompanied 
with a frightful horror of death. Besides, the con- 
science, convinced of its weakness, and of the in- 
sufficiency of its forces, naturally falls into despair. 
From these emotions spring a profound humility 
and extreme alarm ; so that the man, dismayed at 
the idea of eternal death, which he sees ready to 
burst upon him, on account of his injustice and his 
crimes, has recourse to the mercy of God alone, as 
to the only door of salvation ; and, feeling that it 
is not in his power to pay what he owes to the di- 
vine law, cast down and despairing in himself, he 
lives only to seek elsewhere the help he stands in 
need of. 

" But Jehovah, not satisfied with having shewn 
the reverence which is due to his justice, in order to 
inspire our hearts with love towards it, and hatred 
towards iniquity, has farther added to his 'com- 
mandments, promises and threatenings. For as the 
eyes of our understanding are so blinded, that the 
beauty of virtue alone is unable to attract them ; 
this heavenly Father, full of bounty and of cle- 
mency, resolves according to his paternal indul- 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



227 



gence, to lead us to desire and to love him, by the 
sweetness of the rewards which he proposes to us. 
He informs us, therefore, that he will recompense 
virtue; and, that he who will obey his precepts 
shall not labour in vain. On the contrary, he de- 
clares not only that he execrates injustice; but that 
it cannot escape his vengeance, because he has re- 
solved to punish the contempt shewn to his majesty. 
And to incite by all possible means, he promises to 
all those who shall keep his commandments, the 
blessings of the present life, and the eternal felicity 
of Paradise. But, on the other hand, he also 
threatens with temporal calamities, and the punish- 
ment of eternal death, those who shall have viola- 
ted them. For the promise, (referring to the sta- 
tutes and judgments of the Lord) 4 Which if a man 
do, he shall live in them;' and the threatening 
also, which answers to it, ' The soul that sinneth, 
it shall die ;' evidently belong to a death, and to 
future blessedness which will never end; and where- 
ever the good-will, or the anger of the Lord is 
mentioned, eternal life is included in the first, and 
eternal perdition under the other. 

" In the law we meet with a large enumeration 
of temporal blessings and curses. In the punish- 
ments denounced, the Lord discovers a sovereign 
purity ; since he cannot suffer iniquity without 
punishing it. In the promises, besides discovering 
his love for justice, since he does not abandon it 
without satisfaction, he farther discovers in them a 
wonderful indulgence and benignity. For being 



223 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



indebted to his majesty for all that we have, as 
well as for what we are, does he not with justice 
demand all that he requires of us, as a debt due to 
him ? Now does the payment of such a debt de- 
serve a reward ? God, therefore, abates from his 
right, when he proposes any recompence for our 
obedience. 

" With respect to the utility which the promises 
themselves afford us, we have already spoken in 
part. It will be sufficient to shew at present, that 
the promises of the law, in a peculiar manner, re- 
commend righteousness to us, in order to shew us 
with certainty, how agreeable to God is the obser- 
vance of it ; and that punishments, on the other 
hand, are placed before us in order to induce us to 
execrate injustice ; lest the sinner, plunged in vicious 
pleasures, become intoxicated with their sweetness, 
to a forgetfulness that the judgment of the Law- 
giver is preparing his eternal perdition."* 

Having contrasted the spiritual legislation of Je- 
hovah with that of human governments, and shewn 
the spirituality and extent of the divine law, as 
reaching to the thoughts of the heart, and requiring 
an angelic purity ; our author justifies his expo- 
sition, by producing the example of Jesus Christ, 
as a teacher of the same sentiments. " When we 
say," he observes, " that the sense of the law is 
such, we are far from introducing an arbitrary in- 
terpretation ; we only follow Jesus Christ, the faith- 



Instit. lib. ii. cap. 8. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



229 



ful interpreter. As the Pharisees had imbued the 
people with the pernicious opinion, that they ful- 
filled the law, provided they did not violate it by 
external actions ; the Divine Saviour did not fail 
also to censure so dangerous an error, when he 
said, that to look with immodesty upon a woman, 
is to commit adultery ; and that those who hate 
their brethren, are murderers. For he declares 
those persons liable to the punishment of the judg- 
ment, who have only conceived anger in their 
hearts ; those, who by murmuring, testify that 
they have conceived an olfence, punishable by the 
Council; and those who by imprecations, or by 
injuries, openly discover their ill will, worthy of 
the torment of hell fire. 

" Those who have not made these observations, 
have imagined that Jesus Christ, by preaching 
such a doctrine, is to be considered only as a second 
Moses, introducing the gospel law 7 to supply the 
deficiencies of the Mosaic : from whence springs 
the common maxim respecting the perfection of the 
evangelical law, that it is in this respect superior to 
what it was under the Old Testament, which is, on 
many accounts, a very pernicious error. The re- 
futation of this error is sufficiently easy, because 
such persons have thought that Jesus Christ made 
some addition to the law ; whereas he merely ex- 
pounded it ; entirely re-established it, and demon- 
strated its extent by purging it from the falsehoods 
with which the Scribes and Pharisees had obscured 
20 



230 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



it, and from the leaven of their traditions, with 
which they had corrupted it."* 

The above quotations from Calvin, on the sub- 
ject of the moral law, sufficiently evince how remote 
he was from the Antinomian heresy ; and how lit- 
tle they are acquainted with his writings, who 
charge them with an Antinomian tendency. That 
many persons, calling themselves Calvinists, have 
carried his sentiments to an extreme, from which 
that holy man would have revolted with indigna- 
tion, is abundantly certain ; but, " men of sense 
will consider that principles are not therefore to be 
rejected, because they have been abused." f With 
the exception of Antinomians, all parties are agreed 
in the belief of the general truth, that " without 
holiness no man shall see the Lord ;" their defini- 
tions of holiness are, indeed, various, and many of 
them defective ; but they all include a recognition 
of the Scripture declaration of the relative impor- 
tance of holiness. The Antinomian alone furnishes 
an instance of contradiction to the whole spirit of 
Christianity. Religion, considered with reference 
to heaven, stands only in the relation of a mean to 
an end. The Scriptures afford us very little posi- 
tive information with respect to heaven itself; but 
the general inference deducible from their descrip- 
tion is, obviously, that whether it be a state or a 



* Instit. lib. ii. cap. 8. 

f Bishop Hurd's Introduction to the Study of the Pro- 
phecies. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



231 



place, its element is purity. It is, therefore, the 
great object of Christianity to form its happy sub- 
jects " meet for the inheritance of the saints in 
light." Light is the known emblem of purity, and 
as such is applied to the Divine Being, of whom 
we read, — " God is light, and in him is no dark- 
ness at all." But if we were to judge of the future 
heaven of Antinomians by their sentiments and con- 
duct, we should scarcely expect to find them asso- 
ciated with " the spirits of just men made perfect." 
Under the influence of genuine Christianity, the 
mind not only respects the authorit} 7 of its precepts, 
but acquires a supreme attachment to them. — " O 
how I love thy law," is the undisguised expression 
of the heart ; nor would the real Christian, if it 
were possible, wish to be dispensed from the autho- 
rity of the moral law, as a rule of life. Knowing 
that it requires an obedience, which it is his privi- 
lege to yield, while he admires its sublime morality, 
he respects its solemn requisitions. The error of 
those, who, because the law is a ministry of death 
in its operation on the guilty, contend that it is no 
longer a rule of life to believers 'under the gospel 
dispensation, is treated by our author with suitable 
severity. " Some ignorant persons," says he, 
" hardily reject Moses in general and without ex- 
ception, and wish to dispense with the two tables of 
the law, because they imagine it is by no means 
suitable for Christians to attach themselves to a 
doctrine which contains a ministry of death. Mo- 
ses has fully declared, that although the law can 



232 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



only engender death in the sinner, it is nevertheless 
highly advantageous to the faithful; for, being at 
the point of death, he uttered that solemn protes- 
tation to the people : — ' Set your hearts unto all 
the words which I testify unto you this day ; which 
ye shall command your children to observe to do, 
all the words of this law, for it is not a vain thing 
for you, because it is your life.' 

" If no one can deny that there is in the law a 
perfect model of righteousness, we must of necessity 
conclude one of two things ; either that we ought 
to have no rule for the regulation of our lives, or, 
that we must abide by this; since there cannot be 
many models of righteousness, but one, alone, per- 
petual and immutable. What David, therefore, 
says of the righteous man, that, i in the law doth 
he meditate day and night,' is not to be understood 
of any particular age, but to be extended to the end 
of time. Nor are we to be surprised that it requires 
of us a holiness more perfect than we can arrive at, 
while we are imprisoned in these bodies. For 
when we are under grace, it no longer executes to- 
wards us the office of a rigid exactor, whom we 
cannot satisfy, without paying all his demands ; 
but, by exhorting us to perfection, to which it calls 
us, it performs the part of a faithful guide, who 
shews us the end at which we must aim with all our 
powers during the whole of our lives ; and to which 
it is no less useful for us to aspire, than it is agree- 
able to our duty to perform. It will be sufficient if 
in this contention we persevere, since the whole of 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



233 



life is a race, at the end of which the Judge will 
graciously reward us, notwithstanding our imper- 
fections. 

" The law, therefore, being an exhortation to 
believers, not by binding their consciences by the 
fear of its curse, but by awakening and by solicit- 
ing them; by censuring their vices, and their de- 
fects ; many persons, desirous on that account of^ 
representing our deliverance from its curse, main- 
tain, that the law is abrogated as it respects be- 
lievers. (I am now speaking of the moral law.) 
1 It is not,' say they, f that it ought not ever to com- 
mand them what is right and just; but it is na 
longer what it was before to them ; that is to say, 
it no longer confounds and dismays their consci- 
ences by the terrors of its condemnation. The 
apostle Paul, indeed, teaches with sufficient clear- 
ness in his Epistles, such an abrogation of the law. 
Jesus Christ also taught the same truth, as appears 
from his declaration that he came not to destroy 
the law ; which he would not have made, if he had 
not been accused of wishing to abolish it, and if 
this opinion had not been common and familiar 
amongst the Jews. Nor would they have had that 
idea, had it not been founded upon some pretext : 
so that it is to be supposed, that the opinion which 
they had formed of Jesus Christ, proceeded from a 
false interpretation of his doctrine, as it is, indeed, 
the custom of most men to mutilate the truth, in or- 
der to give currency to their errors. 

" That we may not fall into the like mistake, it 
20* 



234 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN,, 



will be necessary to distinguish carefully, between 
what is abrogated of the law, and what still re- 
mains in force. When the Lord Jesus says, — 
' Think not that I am come to destroy the law and 
the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to 
fulfil. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and 
earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass 
from the law till all be fulfilled,' — he clearly shews 
by such language, that the obedience and reverence 
due to the law are not in the least diminished by 
his coming; and that for the best of reasons, since 
he came to enforce its rights by removing its trans- 
gressions. The doctrine of the law, therefore, re- 
mains unaltered by the gospel of Jesus Christ, 
which in no respect prevents its disposing us to 
good works of every kind, by teaching, reproving, 
and correcting us."* 

Various are the reasons which might be assigned 
for the perpetuity of the law as a rule of life to 
believers; but it is hoped that the just and conclu- 
sive reasonings above quoted, will be of sufficient 
weight to convince the impartial reader of the folly 
and wickedness of those, who, under a pretext of 
honouring the character and work of Jesus Christ, 
pour the most daring contempt upon the legislation 
of Jehovah. But, if the sentiment opposed be dis- 
honourable to the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is big 
also with the most mischievous effects to society. 
It is possible that men may be better than the prin- 



# Instit. lib. ii. cap. J. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



235 



ciples which they profess ; but the instances are so 
few, and the tendency of Antinomian sentiments, 
in particular, is so uniform, that we are justified in 
denouncing the character as hateful to God, and 
dangerous in the highest degree to society ; but let 
such persons learn what that meaneth, " Shall we 
continue in sin that grace may abound ? God for- 
bid!" 

The moral law, being founded on the nature of 
the Deity, can never admit of repeal. The same 
reasons which rendered it necessary at its promul- 
gation, continuing in unabated force, preclude the 
very possibility of its being abolished; for, either 
some change must take place in the Deity himself, 
which it is absurd to suppose, or the relation of the 
creature to the great First Cause must be destroyed, 
which is impossible; or, the infinite reasons upon 
which the Divine government is founded, must re- 
main in full force. It is, therefore, obvious that the 
authority which has enacted the moral law can 
alone repeal it ; but, as the grounds of that law 
must be resolved into the original claims of the 
Divine Being upon his creatures, which are in their 
very nature immutable ; it is evident that the autho- 
rity of God can never be found in opposition to 
those claims; and, that it is in vain therefore to 
look for a repeal which would compromise the Di- 
vine character. If, however, the repeal had been 
either practicable or expedient, it would doubtless 
have been made by the great Legislator of the 
Christian economy, who expressly informs us, that 



236 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



he came not to destroy the law, but to establish it. 
Since, therefore, an unrepealed law continues by 
its original authority in full force, and no repeal of 
the moral law can be shewn to have taken place, 
the Christian economy leaves the subject untouched \ 
and he who presumes upon a wilful violation of that 
law, incurs the aggravated guilt of sinning against 
the more luminous exposition of that authority con- 
tained in the very dispensation which he makes the 
pretext of his emancipation. 

A glance at some of the effects which would un- 
avoidably result from the repeal of the moral law, 
will be sufficient to convince all who are not under 
the delirium of Antinomianism, that a more dan- 
gerous delusion has never been propagated by him 
who was " a liar from the beginning." 

It is generally allowed, that the restraints of hu- 
man laws are not to be put in comparison with those 
of Divine legislation ; and the history of fanaticism 
abundantly proves how feeble are the barriers of 
human institutions, when an apprehended emanci- 
pation, by Divine authority, takes possession of 
the mind. The national and individual crimes of 
the Papists, as well as the enormities of the fana- 
tics of Munster, too well demonstrate the truth of 
the remark. In proportion, therefore, to the im- 
portance of the well-being of society, it is desirable 
that the impiety and anti-social tendency of Anti- 
nomianism be denounced and counteracted, since it 
is in its very principle, a violation of all law, hu- 
man and divine. When, therefore, society shall be 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



237 



brought to believe, that God has no rights, and 
our neighbour no claims; that the one may be in- 
sulted with impunity, and the other injured without 
remorse ; the term of human life will be too short 
to calculate the evils to which it will be incident, 



On the Doctrine of Election. 

in the train of sin, and amongst the chief of our 
woes, experience requires us to include ignorance; 
and there is, indeed, scarcely any crime which does 
not stand in some connexion more or less remote 
with it. If this ignorance were merely natural, it 
would be some extenuation; but it is, on the con- 
trary, evident, that it is wilful and perverse. 
" Light is come into the world, but men choose 
darkness rather than light." It is to this fact that 
infidelity must be referred, since the evidence, ex- 
ternal and internal, in favour of the Christian re- 
velation, is so complete, that it requires abundantly 
more credulity to remain an infidel, than is imputed 
to those who embrace Christianity. The inspira- 
tion and authority of the Scriptures being once ad- 
mitted, the mind becomes disposed to exercise an 
implicit faith with regard to the detail of its con- 
tents, and, instead of trying Scripture truths at the 
bar of reason, submits the understanding to the 
authority of faith. The prevailing inquiry will of 
course be, what doctrines are revealed, and with 



238 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



what view ; nor will it revolt such an inquirer that 
the reasons of the doctrine are less distinctly re- 
vealed than the doctrine itself. Before a disciplined 
understanding-, and an obedient heart, theological 
difficulties vanish and subside. The rejection of a 
doctrine, on the ground of not being able to com- 
prehend it, is a modest way of putting ignorance 
in the chair, and constituting it the judge of truth. 
When we consider how many things in the natural 
world baffle the most acute investigation, shall we 
be surprised, if, in Christianity, a world of mira- 
cles, the same character of ignorance accompany 
us there f The opposition made to particular doc- 
trines, while it develops the depravity of human 
nature, illustrates the truths opposed. Those sen- 
timents which pay the least deference to human na- 
ture, and require the most implicit acquiescence, 
contain internal evidence of their authority. No 
doctrine, perhaps, has been opposed with more vio- 
lence and virulence, than the doctrine of election ; 
though the thing itself is only an illustration of 
that sovereignty, which, when it is displayed in the 
course of providence, commands a general acqui- 
escence. It is not difficult, however, to account for 
the unpopularity of this doctrine, which so entirely 
excludes human merit; a circumstance alone suffi- 
cient to excite the inveterate opposition of the ig- 
norant, but arrogant Pharisee. The application 
of rules of human conduct to the Divine Being, 
has proved a fruitful source of misconceptions, with 
regard to the plans and operations of Jehovah ; the 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



239 



presiding character of whose dispensations is, sove- 
reignty. When it is recollected that human nature 
is universally depraved, and, " that in a wa}' of 
justice none of us should see salvation," the Divine 
choice of some, to what is undeserved by all, will 
excite the less surprise, especially in those persons 
who are the most deeply sensible of their own un-« 
worthiness of so distinguishing an act of royal fa- 
vour. It is, indeed, true, that this doctrine has been 
abused to the most licentious purposes ; but it is 
allowed, even by Dr. Priestley, (whom no one 
will suspect of partiality to it,) that, " the doctrine 
of a general and most particular providence, which 
is so leading a feature in every scheme of predes- 
tination, brings God so much into every thing, 
that an habitual and animated devotion is the re- 
sult."* 

The doctrine of election being the distinguishing 
peculiarity of Calvinism, the reader will, no doubt, 
be pleased to see it stated and defended in the words 
of the great Reformer. — " The covenant of grace," 
he observes, " not being equally preached to all 
the world, nor received by all in the same manner 
where it is preached, affords a display of the mys- 
terious conduct of God in this diversity, since it 
cannot be doubted but that it subserves his good 
pleasure. As it is evident that this takes place by 
the Divine will, that salvation is offered to some, 
and that others are excluded from it, so it gives 



* Doctrine of Necessity, p. 162. 



240 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



rise to the most interesting questions, which can 
only be resolved by instructing the faithful in what 
they ought to believe concerning election and Di- 
vine predestination; a subject which to many per- 
sons appears involved, and of difficult comprehen- 
sion, because they can see no reason why God, out 
of the common mass of mankind, should select some 
to predestinate them to salvation, and others to 
predestinate them to death. It will, however, ap- 
pear in the sequel, by testimonies from the Scrip- 
tures, that they embarrass themselves for want ot 
good sense and discernment. Besides which, we 
shall discover in that obscurity which alarms them, 
how far this doctrine is not only useful, but also 
pleasant and delightful, on account of the excellent 
fruits which we derive from it. Never shall we be 
persuaded in a proper manner, that our salvation 
arises out of the gratuitous mercy of God, if we 
possess not at the same time the knowledge of his 
eternal election. For by not adopting indifferently 
the whole world to the hope of salvation; but by 
giving to some, what he refuses to others, he, by 
this comparison of his grace, renders it more esti- 
mable and more illustrious."* 

" I acknowledge that the profane and impious 
have, in this doctrine, found subject matter for cri- 
ticism and raillery ; but if we fear their audacity, 
we must be silent on the principal articles of our 
faith, since there is scarcely any one which they 



* Instit. lib. iii. cap. 21. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



241 



nave not polluted with their blasphemies. A re- 
bellious and obstinate spirit will discover no less 
insolence, upon hearing that in the one essence of 
God there are three persons, than that God, when 
he created man, foresaw what would happen to him. 
Nor will such a person fail to laugh and jeer, when 
told that the world has been created little more than 
five thousand years. Perhaps he will inquire why 
the power of God lay so long dormant and inac- 
tive: Nor can any thing, indeed, be offered, with- 
out being exposed to such profane raillery. 

" The sentiment which some believers entertain, 
that this dispute is dangerous, because it is con- 
trary to exhortations, — is calculated to shake our 
faith, and troubles and subdues the mind, — is a 
vain and frivolous allegation. St. Austin confesses 
that it was on these grounds he was reproved for 
preaching too freely the doctrine of predestination, 
which he also abundantly refutes, as indeed he 
might easily do. As there are opposed to the doc- 
trine which we shall establish various absurdities, 
it will be proper to solve them in their respective 
order. I desire only in general, to have this arti- 
cle granted to me ; that as we ought not to endea- 
vour to discover what God has resolved to conceal 
trom us, so neither ought we to neglect what he 
has fully revealed to us ; lest he should on the one 
hand tax us with too great curiosity, or on the other 
accuse us of ingratitude. 

" I suppose there is no person of any piety, who 
will absolutely deny that predestination, by which 
•21 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



God hath chosen some men to the hope of salva- 
tion, and has adjudged others to eternal damna- 
tion. But many persons involve this doctrine in 
difficulties, and especially those who pretend to 
found it upon the Divine prescience. Both of 
these things we establish, that God foresees all, and 
that he disposes of all ; but we maintain that it con- 
founds every thing to subject the predestination of 
God to his prescience. When we attribute a fore- 
knowledge to God, we mean that all things have 
ever been and remain eternally before his eyes. So 
that with respect to his knowledge, nothing is fu- 
ture nor passed; all things are present to him, and 
so present, that he does not only imagine them by 
representing to himself their ideas, like those things 
which present themselves to us through the medium 
of the imagination, when our souls retain them in 
our memory; but he beholds and contemplates 
them as though they were really before his eyes. 
This prescience extends through the circuit of the 
world, and over all creatures. We call predesti- 
nation the eternal decree of God, by which he hath 
resolved in his counsel what he would do with every 
man in particular. 

" God hath not only given testimony to the doc- 
trine of individual predestination, but hath also af- 
forded us a pattern of it in the race of Abraham : 
for he hath therein clearly shewn, that it belongs to 
him to ordain the destiny of every people, accord- 
ing to his own good pleasure. * When the Most 
High,' says Moses, 1 divided to the nations their 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 243 



inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, 
he set the bounds of the people according to the 
number of the children of Israel : for the Lord's 
portion is his people : Jacob the lot of his inherit- 
ance.'* He elsewhere speaks more expressly, say- 
ing, * The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor 
choose you because ye were more in number than 
any people (for ye were the fewest of all people) ; 
but because the Lord loved you, and because he 
would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your 
fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a 
mighty hand.' The same assertion is often re- 
peated. ( Behold the heaven, and the heaven of 
heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also with 
all that therein is ; only the Lord had a delight in 
thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed 
after them, even you above all people, as it is this 
day.' 

" He also shews them elsewhere, that the love of 
God is the cause of the protection with which they 
were favoured. This the faithful unanimously con- 
fess. 6 He hath chosen us for his inheritance, the 
excellency of Jacob whom he loved.' For to that 
gratuitous love they attributed all the excellency 
with which God hath crowned them, because they 
are well assured, not only that they have not ac- 
quired by any merit the advantages which they 
possess, but that the holy patriarch Jacob himself 
did not possess sufficient virtue to derive, either to 



Deut. xxxii. 8, 9. 



244 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



himself or to his successors, so high a prerogative, 
The prophets also mention their election, in order 
to reproach them, and to Cover them with con- 
fusion, for having so basely fallen by their ingra- 
titude. 

" But what reply will they make, who pretend to 
limit election to the dignity of men, or to the merit 
of their works £ They see that one nation alone is 
preferred to all the rest of the world ; they hear 
from the mouth of God himself, that he was not in- 
duced by any consideration to be more inclined 
towards a despicable, and afterwards a miserable 
and a rebellious people, than towards others. Will 
they plead against God, that he intended to pro- 
pose to us such an example of his mercy ? But 
their murmurings and their contradictions will not 
hinder the execution of his work. By throwing 
their blasphemies, like so many stones against hea- 
ven, they will never wound his justice ; they will 
only return upon their own heads. The Israelites,, 
you perceive, are led to this principle of gratuitous 
election in their thanksgivings to God : 4 It is he 
that hath made us, and not we ourselves ; we are 
his people, and the sheep of his pasture.' The 
negative employed is by no means superfluous ; 
it is added that we may exclude ourselves ; that we 
may not only learn that God is the author of all the 
blessings which render us acceptable, but that he 
was self-induced in the communication of them, 
since he could find nothing in us worthy of such 
liberality, 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



245 



" To this doctrine the song of the whole church 
is responsive : 4 O God, our fathers have told us 
what work thou didst in their days, in the times of 
old. For they got not the land in possession by 
their own sword, neither did their own arm save 
them; but thy right hand and thine arm, and the 
light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a fa- 
vour unto them. It is to be remembered, that the 
land of Canaan is to be considered as a visible 
symbol of the secret election of God, by which 
they were adopted. The words of the prophet Da- 
vid contain the same idea : — ' Blessed is the nation 
whose God is the Lord ; and the people whom he 
hath chosen for his own inheritance.' Samuel ani- 
mates the righteous of his day, by the same con- 
sideration to entertain a good hope; 4 for the Lord 
will not forsake his people, for his great name's 
sake; because it hath pleased the Lord to make 
you his people.' "* 

From the above considerations, it must appear 
to every impartial and reflecting mind, that, in the 
dispensations of Providence from the earliest ages, 
a perpetual illustration of the divine sovereignty 
hath been furnished, calculated to illustrate the 
character of Jehovah, as an independent being, de- 
riving all his motives from himself. That the 
greatest and the best of beings should also be an 
absolute Sovereign, is a proposition so obvious, 
that it were trifling to attempt the illustration of it* 



* lnstit. lib. hi. cap. 21. 
21* 



246 WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



The sovereignty of God admitted, (and it is pre- 
sumed few persons, if any, calling themselves Chris- 
tians, will dispute it), furnishes a reply to all objec- 
tions against the doctrine of election, as inconsis- 
tent with the character of Jehovah; election being 
only an act of that sovereignty so admitted. But, 
if such an act of sovereignty be in itself just, it is 
also divinely attested. The election of the Jewish 
nation to be a distinct people from the rest of the 
world, and to exclusive privileges, may be consi- 
dered as a specimen of the style and manner of the 
great Supreme, whose majesty places him above 
all inquiry and censure, though his goodness con- 
descends to reveal a part of his ways ; but how lit- 
tle of him is known I 

Those who bound their inquiries by the decisions 
of Scripture, will attend with candour and impar- 
tiality to testimonies in favour of this doctrine de- 
duced from thence. 

The cause of election, as stated in the Scriptures, 
appears to be the uninfluenced good pleasure of 
God, irrespectively of all qualities and circum- 
stances in the subjects of that choice. That works, 
either past or future, are of no consideration on 
this subject, our author proves with sufficient evi- 
dence, by observing, that " Wherever the good 
pleasure of God reigns, works, of whatever kind, 
can be of no consideration. It is true, that in this 
passage the apostle does not pursue the antithesis, 
which must, however, be understood, as he himself, 
elsewhere explains it. i He hath saved us,' says 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN, 247 



he, 4 and called us with an holy calling ; not ac- 
cording to our works, but according to his own 
purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ 
Jesus before the world began. 5 And I have also 
shewn, that the words already handled, ' That we 
might be holy and without blame,' ought to remove 
all scruples from our mind. For if we say that he 
hath elected us because he foresaw that we should 
be holy, we shall reverse the apostle's order. We 
may, therefore, reason thus, with entire confidence: 
Since God hath elected us in order that we might 
be holy, it was not, therefore, because he foresaw 
that we should be so. For these two things are 
opposed to each other ; that the faithful derive their 
holiness from election, and that, nevertheless, it 
was in the view of that holiness that they were 
elected. The subterfuge to which they always 
have recourse, ought here to be disregarded ; that 
although God does not bestow the favour of elec- 
tion to preceding merits, he confers it, neverthe- 
less, on account of future merits. For when the 
apostle says that the faithful were elected that they 
might be holy, he thereby signifies that all the ho- 
liness which they may possess, derives its origin 
from election. And how can it ever be made to 
agree, that those things which take their rise from 
election, and which election itself produces, should 
influence God to the act, and be the cause of it ? 

" The apostle confirms what he had said more 
strongly yet, when he adds, that God hath elected 
us according to his good pleasure, which he had 



248 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



purposed in himself. For that is equivalent to 
saying that he considered nothing out of himself, 
to which he had any regard in forming this resolu- 
tion. He, therefore, adds, that the source of our 
election ought to be referred to this end, that we 
might be to the praise of the grace of God. Nor 
does the grace of God merit to be celebrated in our 
election, unless that election be gratuitous. This 
it cannot by any means be considered, if God is 
influenced in the choice of his people, by the con- 
sideration of their works respectively. Thus, what 
Jesus Christ said to his disciples, is equally true as 
applied to the faithful in general : 4 Ye have not 
chosen me, but I have chosen you.' By which ex- 
pression, he not only excluded all previous merits, 
but farther signified that they possessed nothing in 
themselves on account of which they deserved to 
be elected, unless he had anticipated them by his 
mercy. In which sense we must understand the 
expression of Paul, 1 Who hath first given to him, 
and it shall be recompensed unto him again ?' where 
he endeavours to shew that the goodness of God 
anticipates men in such a sense, that it finds nothing 
in them, either past or future, calculated to attract 
his good-will. 

" Let us, however, attend to what the Supreme 
Master and Teacher himself pronounces on this 
subject. Perceiving in his hearers so great a hard- 
ness of heart, that his preaching appeared to be 
almost useless to them, to prevent the abuse which 
the weak might make of it, he exclaims, * All that 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN* 249 



the Father giveth me shall come to me ; and this is 
the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all 
which he hath given me, I should lose nothing.' 
Let it be well remarked, that when we are placed 
under the protection of our Lord Jesus Christ, it 
proceeds from the gift of the Father, as its princi- 
ple and source. Some persons may contend, per- 
haps, that God acknowledges, in the number of his 
people, those only who voluntarily give themselves 
to him by faith. But Jesus Christ insists simply 
upon this point, that although the whole world 
should be shaken by the numerous revolts which 
take place, that the counsel of God remains still 
firmer than the heavens, that election shall never 
fail. We see in the gospel that the elect belonged 
to their heavenly Father before he gave them to 
his only Son. If it be asked, whether they natu- 
rally belonged to him, it is replied, that he consti- 
tutes those his who were far from him, by attaching 
them to himself. The words of Jesus Christ are 
too clear to be obscured by any gloss whatever: 
4 No man can come to me, except the Father which 
hath sent me draw him. Every man, therefore, 
that hath heard and hath learned of the Father, 
cometh unto me.' Our divine Saviour having said 
that the disciples who had been given to him were 
the possession of his Father, adds towards the close, 
4 I pray not for the world, but for them which thou 
hast given me, for they are thine.' From whence, 
therefore, does it proceed, that the world in gene- 
ral does not belong to its Creator, if it is not be- 



250 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



cause grace delivers from the curse and wrath of 
God, a few persons who otherwise would have pe- 
rished, and leaves the world in that perdition to 
which it was destined ? 

" Farther, though Jesus Christ places himself, 
as it were, between his Father and his people, he 
nevertheless attributes to himself the right which he 
possesses, in common with the Father, to choose 
whom he pleases : < I speak not of you all,' says 
he, ' I know whom I have chosen.' Should it be 
asked, from whence he chose them ? he elsewhere 
informs us that it was out of the world, which he 
excludes from his prayers, when he recommends 
his disciples to his Father. It deserves, however, 
to be well observed, that when he says he knows 
them whom he hath elected, he designates a cer- 
tain number of mankind, not distinguishing them 
from the rest for the virtues or qualities which they 
possess, but on account of their being separated by 
the heavenly decree. From whence it follows, 
that those who belong to the election of which Je- 
sus Christ is the author, are not superior to others 
in themselves. Where he elsewhere places Judas 
amongst the elect, though he was indeed a devil, 
it refers merely to his office. The apostleship was 
indeed a mirror of the favour of God, as St. Paul 
frequently acknowledges respecting himself; it did 
not, however, include the hope of eternal salvation. 
Judas, therefore, by exercising his ministry with 
perfidy, was indeed worse than a devil ; but those 
whom Jesus Christ hath united to his own body, 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN, 



251 



he will never suffer to perish, because he will ever 
execute what he hath promised to maintain — their 
salvation ; that is to say, he will display a divine 
power, greater than any in the world."* 

Having thus irrefragably established the autho- 
rity of the doctrine upon Scripture evidence, our 
author proceeds to adduce the testimonies of Ber- 
nard and Austin, and replies with great solidity of 
argument to the various calumnies usually directed 
against it. But it would comport neither with the 
design of the present work, nor probably with the 
reader's inclination, to follow the arguments, how- 
ever judicious, by which he repels the objections 
alleged against the tendency of the doctrine. It is 
evident that the doctrine itself stands closely con- 
nected in the Scriptures with personal holiness; 
which is there enjoined upon the ground of the 
distinguishing love of God through Jesus Christ} 
and though good works have no influence on the 
decree of election, they are considered as the ob- 
jects of predestination, as the individual is the sub- 
ject of election. An habitual exemplification of the 
Christian character in all its parts, being the only 
genuine evidence of election, no man is entitled, on 
the ground of self-complacency, to write his own 
name in the Lamb's book of life. 

It is worthy of remark, that, notwithstanding the 
verbal difference between Calvinists and Arminians, 
upon the question, " Are there few that shall be 



* Instit. lib. iii. cap. 22, 



252 WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



saved f" there is in point of fact, an identity of re- 
sult upon each statement ; since both parties con- 
sider conversion as essential to salvation, and unite 
in ascribing regeneration to a divine and sovereign 
influence, asserted in the passage, " the wind blow- 
eth where it listeth." There is, therefore, a mani- 
fest fallacy in the argument that more persons will 
be finally saved upon the Arminian than upon the 
Calvinistic hypothesis; since the numerical amount 
is precisely the same upon either supposition, con- 
version being indispensable to an entrance into the 
kingdom of heaven.* 



On the Doctrine of Reprobation. 

When it is considered what odium has been at- 
tached to the Calvinistic system, on the ground of 
its including the doctrine of reprobation, it cannot, 
surely, be thought irrelevant to the object of the 
present undertaking, to insert the statement of 
Calvin, with reference to that subject. 

" Let us now speak," says Ke, " of the repro- 
bate, referred to by St. Paul.f For as Jacob was 
received into favour without having merited any 
thing by his good works; so Esau was rejected of 
God, before he was stained with a single crime. 
If we look towards works, we offer an insult to the 



# John iii. 5. 



f Rom. ix. 13. 



WHITINGS OF CALVIN. 



253 



apostle, as if he had not seen what is so evident to 
us. And that he did not include them is apparent, 
since he principally urges this article, that, though 
they had done neither good nor evil, the one was 
chosen while the other was rejected. From whence 
he infers, that the foundation of divine predestina- 
tion is not to be found in works. Besides, in re- 
ply to the question, whether God be unjust in act- 
ing thus ? he does not intimate that God treated 
Esau according to his deserts. This, however, is 
precisely what he ought to have said, as it would 
have been the most clear and natural defence of the 
equity of God. But he gives an entirely different 
solution, asserting that God creates the reprobate, 
in order to shew forth in them the glory of his jus- 
tice. By adding, indeed, that he shews mercy to 
whom he pleases, and hardens whom he will, we 
see how he imputes both these actions to the good 
pleasure of God. If, therefore, we can allege no 
other reason wherefore God condescends to honour 
his people with his mercy, than because it pleases 
him; neither can we assign any other, wherefore he 
rejects others, than his own will. For when it is 
said, that God hardens, or that he shews mercy ac- 
cording to his good pleasure, it is intended to 
teach us to seek no other cause than his will 
alone.* 

" But when men hear these things asserted, they 
are incapable of restraining their intemperance and 



* Instit. lib. iii. cap. 22. 
22 



254 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



audacity, but break out into tumults, as though a 
trumpet were sounded for the assault. Many per- 
sons, under the pretext of supporting the interests 
of the glory of God, and of preventing any unjust 
blame from being thrown upon him, consent to the 
doctrine of election, but deny that he reprobates 
any. But this subterfuge is puerile and absurd, 
since election cannot subsist unless it be opposed 
to reprobation. It is admitted that God separates 
those whom he adopts to salvation ; it is, therefore, 
grossly impertinent to say, that those who are not 
elected obtain by chance, or by their own industry, 
what is bestowed from above on very few persons. 
God, then, reprobates those whom he leaves, and 
for no other reason, than because he chooses to ex- 
clude them from the inheritance which he has des- 
tined for his children. Nor is the audacity of men 
to be endured, which is not to be repressed by the 
authority of the word of God, when it relates to 
the incomprehensible counsel of God, which even 
angels adore. We have also just heard, that this 
hardening is as much in the hand of God, as his 
mercy. We have seen, indeed, that St. Paul does 
not give himself the trouble, like some great doc- 
tors, to exonerate God by lying for him ; he 
merely shews that a vessel of clay is not permitted 
to dispute with Him that made it. Farther, those 
who cannot endure the thought that God should 
reprobate any, how will they extricate themselves 
from that sentence of Jesus Christ? — ' Every plant 
which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall 



■ . 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 255 



be rooted up.' They admit that all those whom 
the Father has not condescended to plant in his 
field as sacred trees, are manifestly destined to per- 
dition. If they deny this to be a mark of reproba- 
tion, there is nothing so clear that they will not 
obscure. Though they cease not to murmur, let 
our faith be constrained within the boundaries of 
sobriety, and listen to the caution of St. Paul: not 
to complain of God, if, ' willing to shew his wrath, 
and to make his power known, he endure with 
much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to 
destruction; and make known the riches of his 
glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore 
prepared unto glory.' Let readers attentively ob- 
serve this circumstance, that St. Paul, in order to 
cut off all murmurs and calumnies, attributes a so- 
vereign empire to the wrath and power of God, 
since it is equally unjust and unreasonable to pro- 
fess to investigate the secret judgments of God ? 
which swallow up all our powers by their unfa- 
thomable depth. 

" The conduct of God in inflicting upon the re- 
probate the punishment due to them, and in bestow- 
ing upon his elect the grace which they did not de- 
serve, may be easily defended against all accusa- 
tion, by the similitude of a creditor, who has an 
unlimited right over his debt, to remit it to the 
one, and to enforce the payment from the other, 
according to his own pleasure. The Lord may, 
therefore, shew favour to whom he will, because 
he is merciful ; and not to all, because he is just : 



256 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



in bestowing upon some what they do not deserve, 
he shews that his favour is gratuitous ; in not be- 
stowing it upon all, he shews what all deserve."* 

An opinion equally singular and erroneous ha- 
ving been adopted and acted upon by several mi- 
nisters of reputedly Calvinistic sentiments; that, 
because salvation is restricted to the elect, the 
preaching of the gospel ought also to be exclu- 
sively addressed to them ; a brief refutation of so 
absurd an hypothesis can require no apology. 

How this sentiment can be reconciled with the 
commission given by the risen Redeemer to his 
disciples, to preach " repentance and remission of 
sins in his name among all nations, beginning at 
Jerusalem,"! those who maintain it, have yet to 
shew. That the disciples, if they understood the 
doctrine of election, could have any grounds for 
supposing Jerusalem sinners to be objects of that 
decree, is a supposition too glaringly absurd to be 
countenanced by any reflecting mind. So entirely 
hopeless a task as that of preaching to persons, 
some of whose hands were yet reeking with the 
blood of their Master, would have required nothing 
less than that divine commission which they re- 
ceived, to inspire them with courage and success. 
But, upon the principle of these spurious Calvin- 
ists, they acted completely out of character, in 
calling those sinners to repentance, and the remis- 
sion of their sins; and ought even to have dis- 



* Instit. lib. iii. cap. 23. 



t Luke xxiv. 47° 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



257 



obeyed the divine and benevolent command. The 
Saviour's command to the eleven, to "go into all 
the world and preach the gospel to every creature," 
must be equally unintelligible upon so singular a 
principle; unless we are to understand " every 
creature" to be a term descriptive of the elect, in 
which case the whole world must have been in an 
elect state — which is absurd. 

If it be urged, that, being " dead in trespasses 
and sins," sinners are naturally incapable of be- 
lieving and obeying the gospel call ; so were the 
inhabitants of Jerusalem, where the first Christian 
church was planted. The rule of conduct for ra- 
tional agents being the revealed will of God, and 
not his decrees ; wherever a Divine appointment is 
interposed, implicit acquiescence and prompt obe- 
dience become the duties of all professing Chris- 
tians. As well might Ezekiel have refused to pro- 
phesy to the dry bones, on the ground of the ex- 
treme improbability of any effect resulting from his 
obedience ; but complying with the Divine appoint- 
ment, a stirring amongst the dry bones, which be- 
came at length animated into a great army, illus- 
trated the divine power, while it explained the po- 
sitive command. 

But the spirit of the objection is not only at vari- 
ance with evangelical sentiment, but offends equally 
against the authority under which it takes shelter. 
How little claim persons who advocate this senti- 
ment really possess to be considered Calvinists, 
will appear from the following quotation from the 
22* 



258 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



leader under whom they choose to arrange them- 
selves : — " But to what end (some will reply) do 
exhortations tend? I answer, if men obstinately 
despise them, they will be witnesses to convict 
them when they appear before the tribunal of God. 
They even now strike the evil conscience : for 
though they affect to despise, they are unable to dis- 
prove them. But what shall the poor sinner do, it 
will be replied, since the melting of heart necessary 
to obey, is not afforded to him ? To which I reply, 
how vain is it for him to seek such excuses, since 
he cannot impute the hardness of his heart to any 
one besides himself. 

" Should any one ask, why they are warned of 
their duty? Why are they not rather left to the 
conduct of the Holy Spirit? Why are they soli- 
cited by exhortations, since they can only comply 
with them, so far as the Spirit enables them ? Why 
are they corrected when they have departed from 
the right way, since they err and fall by a neces- 
sary and inevitable infirmity of their nature? — This 
is briefly our answer: — O man, who art thou that 
wouldst impose laws upon God ? If he choose to 
prepare us by means of exhortations to receive that 
very grace, to obey those exhortations which are 
addressed to us, what hast thou to object to this 
conduct of the Lord, and what is there in it which 
thou canst justly contemn?"* 

The importance of pointed addresses to the con- 



* Instit. lib. ii. cap. 5. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



259 



sciences of sinners, may be ascertained from the 
great utility of such works as Baxter's " Call to 
the Unconverted" and Doddridge's " Rise and Pro- 
gress of Religion in the Son! ;" — works that have, 
perhaps, beyond all writing's merely human, pro- 
moted the salvation of immortal souls. 



On Original Sin. 

If the doctrine of election be objected to, on the 
ground of difficulties supposed to attach to it, . 
though easily separable from it, the scripture doc- 
trine of original sin, with all its humiliating re- 

ults, can scarcely be supposed to excite any feel- 
ings but those of pride and indignation, and that 
sort and degree of opposition which such a state of 
mind naturally induces. The admission of the doc- 
trine is, however, necessary to an accurate under- 
standing of many parts of scripture, particularly 
the Epistle to the Romans, in which the apostle, 
assuming the fact as incontrovertible, employs it 
as a ground of reasoning and instruction. Adam 
is indeed considered, in Sacred Writ, as standing 
in the relation of a federal head to his posterity, to 
whom Christ is also opposed as the covenant head 
of his people. It is not to be denied that the sub- 

ect has its difficulties, which, to unenlightened rea- 
son may appear insuperable; but the man who de- 
rives his religious views immediately from the 



260 WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



Scriptures, will admit the mysterious doctrine in 
the simplicity of faith, and the silence of acquies- 
cence. 

With a view to obviate some of the more popu- 
lar objections, our author furnishes us with a clear 
definition of terms, in the following words : — " My 
design," says he, " is not to examine all the defini- 
tions of those persons who have treated on the sub- 
ject. I will only mention one, which appears to 
me more congenial with the truth than the rest. 
We say then, that original sin is a corruption and 
an hereditary malignity of our nature, which, being 
diffused throughout the soul, renders us obnoxious 
to the wrath of God, and produces in us those 
works which the Scriptures call works of the flesh. 

" We must, therefore, observe the two following 
things: First, that we are so corrupted in all our 
powers, as, on account of this corruption, to be 
justly liable to condemnation before God, to whom 
nothing can be agreeable but righteousness, inno- 
cence, and purity. Nor can it be alleged that this 
obnoxiousness to punishment is caused by another's 
fault exclusively, as if we were answerable for the 
sin of our first father, without being ourselves 
guilty. When we assert, that by the sin of Adam 
we are made responsible at the tribunal of God, 
we by no means pretend to say that we are to bear 
the punishment of his crime, however innocent we 
may be, and without having deserved it; but we 
merely say, that being universally enveloped in the 
curse by his disobedience, he hath subjected us all 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 26! 



to this punishment. Nor hath the punishment alone 
fallen from him upon us ; the infection and corrup- 
tion communicated by him to us, and to which 
punishment is due, dwell in us also. On which 
account, St. Austin, though he sometimes calls 
original sin the sin of another, to shew more evi- 
dently that it is transmitted to us by a carnal pro- 
pagation, maintains, notwithstanding, that it be- 
longs to, us individually. The apostle also ex- 
pressly asserts that death hath passed upon all, for 
that all have sinned ; that is to say, because all are 
involved in original sin, and infected with its stains 
and pollutions. On which account, even infants 
are subjected to this condemnation, not simply for 
the sin of another, but for their own also. For 
although they have not yet brought forth the fruit 
of iniquity, the seed of it is, nevertheless, hidden 
in them ; and what is still worse, their whole na- 
ture is only the seed of sin and of corruption, 
which consequently renders them odious in the 
sight of Deity. 

" The other point which remains to be consi- 
dered, is, that this corruption of our nature is ne- 
ver idle, but produces incessantly new fruits, those 
■ carnal works of which we have been just speaking, 
like a furnace continually emitting flames, or a 
spring sending forth streams. Those who have, 
therefore, defined original sin, as the privation of 
original righteousness, with which man ought to be 
clothed, have in these words comprised the sub- 
stance of that sin ) but, in my opinion, have not 



262 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



sufficiently expressed its force and its efficacy. 
For our nature is not only devoid^ of all good, but 
is also so fruitful of evil, as never to remain inac- 
tive. 

w It is on this account I have observed, that 
since the defection of Adam, all the powers of 
man have been subject to sin. For it was not sim- 
ply the inferior part of the soul, or sensuality, 
which inclined him to evil ; that unhappy impiety 
to which we have alluded, took possession also of 
the highest and most excellent faculty of his mind, 
as pride gained and penetrated into the most inti- 
mate and most profound part of his heart. From 
whence it appears, how absurd is the conceit of 
those persons, who restrict the corruption which 
proceeds from that impiety to sensual appetites, or 
denominate it a source, a principle of latent fire, 
which excites to the commission of sin, that part 
only of the soul which they call sensuality. St. 
Paul not only commands us to mortify sensual ap- 
petites, but is desirous that we may be renewed in 
the spirit of our mind. Hence it appears, that that 
part of the soul in which its excellence is most con- 
spicuous, is so wounded and corrupted, that it not 
- only simply stands in need of a cure, but of being 
created anew. 

" Those who have the audacity to attribute to 
God the cause of their sins, under the pretext that 
we assert, that men are naturally corrupted, would 
do well to consider the grounds on which they rest, 
and whether it is not a great crime in them to con- 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



263 



template the work of God in their corruption, in- 
stead of seeking it in the nature which Adam re- 
ceived before his transgression. Let us ever re- 
member to impute our ruin to the depravation of 
our nature, and not to nature itself, lest we accuse 
God, the author and preserver of our being, as 
though our misery proceeded from him. It is per- 
fectly true that this mortal evil is deeply rooted in 
our nature ; but it is certain that this evil hath oc- 
curred through sin superinduced. We ought, there- 
fore, to complain of ourselves alone. This the 
Scriptures particularly inculcate : ' Lo, this only 
have I found,' says the preacher, 1 that God hath 
made man upright ; but they have sought out ma- 
ny inventions.' From whence it appears clearly 5 
that it is to man alone that his ruin must be im- 
puted, since, having received by the favour of God 
a natural uprightness, he hath by his own folly 
fallen into vanity. 

" We assert, therefore, that man is naturally cor- 
rupted. Not that this corruption springs from the 
foundation of his nature, but we express ourselves 
thus, in order to shew that it is rather a quality 
superadded to human nature, than a property of its 
substance which hath from the beginning belonged 
to it. We, however, call this corruption natural, 
in order that no one may imagine, that it is ac- 
quired or contracted by example or evil customs; 
since we all take possession of it from our birth, by 
a successive and hereditary right. This we do not 
assert without authority. It is on this account that 



264 WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 

the apostle designates mankind, by nature, the 
children of wrath."* 



On Free-will. 

Having thus established the fact of the entire de- 
pravity of human nature, our author naturally pro- 
ceeds to discuss the question of free-will, which has 
given rise to so much controversy in the Christian 
world, and which is far from being settled at the 
present day. The sentiments of Calvin on this 
subject, being appreciated only through the medi- 
um of modern Calvinists, who, without any ac- 
quaintance with the works of their venerable foun- 
der, have adopted his general sentiments without 
examination, and maintained them in many in- 
stances upon different grounds than those upon 
which he professedly rested them ; a few extracts 
will, perhaps, serve the double purpose of correct- 
ing the mistakes too prevalent on the subject, and 
of doing justice to our author. 

" Having shewn," he observes, " that the tyran- 
ny of sin, since it subdued Adam our first father, 
has not only been extended over all men, but has 
also taken possession of their whole souls, we are 
now to inquire whether, since we have been thus 
engaged in this miserable slavery, we have entirely 



* Instit. lib. ii. cap. 1 . 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



265 



lost our liberty, or whether we retain any portion 
of it, and of what strength it is. But the more 
easily to throw light upon this question, it is neces- 
sary to propose an end to which we may refer the 
whole dispute. The best means to avoid error, is 
to consider attentively the dangers which present 
themselves on either side. When man discovers 
himself to be destitute of all good, he immediately 
takes occasion to become careless. For being told 
that he has no ability in himself to do good, he 
takes no pains to endeavour so to do, as though he 
had no concern in it. On the other hand, if any 
thing good be attributed to him, immediately a 
false confidence is excited, and he robs God of a 
part of the glory which is his due. In order to 
avoid these equally dangerous rocks, we must, in 
my opinion, take the following course. In con- 
vincing man, that in him there dwelleth no good 
thing, and that he is on all sides surrounded, thus 
to speak, by a miserable indigence, we should at the 
same time teach him to aspire both to the good of 
which he is destitute, and to the liberty of which 
he is deprived, and that he should attend more ear- 
nestly to those duties than if he believed that he 
was enriched with goodness, and endowed with 
extensive ability. 

" With respect to the first, which consists in 
making him feel his poverty and his misery, many 
persons entertain doubts which they need not. It 
is true that man ought not to be deprived of any 
thing belonging to him ; but it is infinitely impor- 
23 



266 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



tant to deprive him entirely of vanity and false 
glory. The Scriptures, when they speak of the 
excellent dignity with which man was adorned at 
his creation, refer it to his having btien created in 
the image of God. By which they clearly shew 
that he was not independently rich, and that all 
his opulence and blessedness was derived to him 
through the communion which he enjoyed with 
God, and by the participation of his favours. 

" It is, besides, no less useful to us, than it is 
necessary to support the glory of God undimi- 
nished, to deprive us of all the praise of virtue and 
of wisdom. To walk and to fight depending upon 
our own strength, what is it but to lean upon a 
reed which will break under us ? On which ac- 
count, Austin so frequently remarks, ' that those 
who defend free-will, while they are endeavouring 
to establish its rights, rather overthrow than sup- 
port it.'"* 

Having thus introduced the subject, our author 
proceeds to quote the sentiments of the ancient 
philosophers, as well as those of the fathers of the 
Christian church; in which, however, we shall not 
follow him, as the object of the present work is 
rather to display the sentiments of the reformer, 
than to treat any particular subject fully. Those 
who are inclined to pursue this question at length, 
will see it discussed in a masterly and convincing 
manner, by the celebrated Jonathan Edwards, in 



* In Evangel. Joan, tract 22. — Instit. lib. ii. cap. 2. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



267 



his work on the Freedom of the Will, in which the 
subject is treated with the acumen of a Locke, and 
the piety of a Watts. 

Pursuing the subject, our author observes, 
" That sentence of Chrysostom has ever pleased 
me, that the foundation of our philosophy is hu- 
mility. The discourse of Austin still more, where 
he uses these expressions : — 1 As Demosthenes, the 
celebrated Greek orator, being asked what was the 
first rule of eloquence ? replied that it was action ; 
and when asked what was the second, and what the 
third ? gave still the same answer, that it was action ; 
4 So,' saith he, 1 if you ask me what are the pre- 
cepts of the Christian religion, I will reply that the 
first, the second, and the third are — Humility.' 
By this humility he by no means intends a dispo- 
sition of soul, which simply prevents a man, upon 
the supposition of some good quality, from becom- 
ing proud; but a virtue which makes him truly 
feel what he is ; and which compels him to acknow- 
ledge, that the only asylum which is open to him, 
and to which he can repair, is to humble himself 
before his Creator. 

" Let us not, therefore, enter into a contest with 
the Divine Being on the subject of our rights, as 
though what we attributed to him constituted our 
indigence. For as our meanness contrasted shews 
his grandeur, so the confession which we make of 
it has ever his mercy for its remedy. I do not, in- 
deed, desire that man should concede to God any 
part of his rights, without being previously con- 



268 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



vinced of his imbecility; and that in order to be 
formed to a true humility, he should divert his at- 
tention from his own faculties ; but I demand only 
that, disengaging himself from that fond love which 
he bears towards himself, and from that ambition 
which is so natural to him ; from his passions, I 
say, by which he is but too much blinded, he will 
contemplate himself in the faithful mirror of Scrip- 
ture. 

With what has been commonly alleged from St. 
Austin, I am far from being dissatisfied, as I have 
already intimated ; which is, that the natural gifts 
of man have been corrupted by sin, and that the 
supernatural are entirely abolished. By superna- 
tural gifts must be understood, the light of faith, 
the uprightness of the heart, with reference to a 
heavenly life and eternal felicity. Man, then, 
having abandoned the kingdom of God, has been 
deprived of the spiritual gifts, with which he was 
furnished for his salvation. From whence it fol- 
lows, that he hath been so banished from the king- 
dom of heaven, that all the faculties and powers 
which belong to the blessed life of the soul are ex- 
tinguished, until recovered by regeneration ; such 
as love to God, charity towards our neighbour, 
the desire to live in holiness and righteousness. 
Now all these being restored to us by Jesus Christ, 
and as they cannot be attributed to our nature, 
since they are foreign to us, it must necessarily be 
concluded that they were abolished in us. On the 
other hand, the light of the mind, and uprightness 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



269 



of heart, we are deprived of ; and therein consists 
the corruption of our natural gifts. For though we 
still retain a portion of judgment and of intelli- 
gence, conjoined with the will, we can by no means 
say that our understanding is perfect, weak and 
plunged into thick darkness as it is ; nor that our 
will is pure and holy, since its malice and rebellion 
are but too well known to us. Thus reason, by 
which man conceives and judges of things to dis- 
tinguish good from evil, being a natural gift, 
could not possibly be entirely extinguished, but 
became weakened and corrupted in part, so that 
there appeared no longer any thing but gloomy, 
terrific ruins. 

" In this sense St. John says, that, 4 The light 
shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehend- 
ed it not where he clearly expresses these two 
things, that in the nature of man, however perverse 
and corrupt, sparks of light shine, which discover 
him to be a reasonable animal, distinguished from 
the brutes by being endowed with intelligence ; 
but that these sparks are, however, smothered by a 
dense ignorance, from which it is incapable of sepa- 
rating itself to produce any good effect. The will 
also being inseparable from nature, is equally in- 
capable of being annihilated ; but is also become 
so entirely the slave of base affections, that it is in- 
capable of desiring any thing really good." 

That the light of the understanding is not abso* 
lutely extinguished, our author proceeds to explain, 
by shewing that an application of the mental pow- 
23* 



270 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



ers to any specific object, is not unattended with 
utility and pleasure. Applied to things terrestrial, 
such as laws, civil, political, and economical; me- 
chanics, philosophy, and the various arts called 
liberal; the understanding, usefully employed, pro- 
motes individual and social happiness, by amelior- 
ating the condition of society, by illustrating the 
principles, and enforcing the obligations of distri- 
butive justice. Man, being a social animal, is im- 
pelled by a natural inclination to promote the pros- 
perity of society. Upon this principle, human nature 
appears pervaded with a general impression that all 
human societies ought to be governed by certain 
laws, the principles of which are engraved in the hu- 
man mind. Nor is the opposition made by individu- 
als to existing laws to be construed into an exception 
to this general principle ; since it demonstrates only 
the ascendancy of the passions over the judgment, 
and discovers that they hate in their heart what 
they approve in their understanding. The variety 
of opinions discoverable on the legislation of par- 
ticular governments and individuals, as it includes 
a recognition of the importance of some form of 
government, discovers only the imperfection of the 
light of nature, which is far from indicating the 
last and most perfect form of government, which 
should exclude all possibility of exception, and all 
inducement to opposition. 

As human nature is in general distinguished from 
the brute creation by understanding ; the inferior 
animals by instinct, from inanimate beings; so 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



271 



there is also a variety of endowments amongst ra- 
tional beings, calculated, by displaying the sove- 
reignty of the Divine Being in those instances of 
diversity, to repress the tendency to pride, which 
is unhappily so general, and so much to be re- 
gretted. The endowments of individuals are, by 
Divine Providence, adapted to the stations which 
they occupy, and the duties which they are called 
to the discharge of. But in this diversity we are 
furnished with various evidence of an impress of 
divinity; surrounded, indeed, by much acquired 
darkness and imperfection; but still indicative of 
the original greatness, and perpetual responsibility 
of every human agent. 

But, if we inquire into the capabilities of human 
reason, with reference to seeking of the kingdom 
of God, or comprehending heavenly wisdom, we 
shall soon perceive a miserable deficiency, which 
admits of one only remedy — Divine illumination. 
" Heavenly wisdom," according to our author, 
M consists in knowing the three following things : 
First, what is the nature of God ; secondly, what 
is the nature of his favour and good-will towards 
us, which includes our salvation ; and, finally, what 
rule we ought to follow, in order to conform our 
lives to his law. With regard to the two first arti- 
cles, and especially the second, the most subtle, 
vivacious, and enlightened persons, are totally 
blind. I do not deny but that in the books of the 
philosophers we meet with beautiful and exquisite 
sentences respecting the Divinity, written with a 



272 WRITINGS OP CALVIN. 



great deal of ingenuity and elegance; but there 
always appears so much inconstancy, and so little 
firmness, that it is easy to perceive their imagina- 
tions were wild and confused. It is true, as we 
have already remarked, that God hath given them 
some glimpse of his majesty, that they might not 
cover their impiety with a vain pretext of igno- 
rance. But they have so seen objects, as not to be 
conducted thereby to pursue truth — much less have 
they arrived at it. These persons, with their pre- 
tended illuminations, may, I conceive, be well com-, 
pared to a man, who, finding himself at night in 
the middle of a field, in a thunder-storm, sees by 
the flashes of lightning a considerable extent round 
about him, but it is only instantaneous. So that 
all this light is of no use to conduct him, since it 
disappears so suddenly, that before he is able to 
advance a step, he is replunged into darkness; thus 
is it wholly impossible for him to recover his road 
by such, a help. Besides, those sparks of truth 
which shine occasionally in the books of the phi- 
losophers, by what clouds of errors are they not 
encompassed ? Let us, therefore, conclude that 
human reason can never by its own strength dis- 
cover truth ; that it can never of itself comprehend 
who is the true God, and in what relation he will 
stand to us. 

" St. Paul is remarkably clear in treating this 
subject. Having assumed that the wisdom of man 
is full of folly and of vanity, he thus concludes the 
subject: ' But the natural man receiveth not the 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



273 



things of the Spirit of God ; for they are foolish- 
ness unto him : neither can he know them, because 
they are spiritually discerned.' Who then is this 
natural man, unless it be him who prides himself on 
the light of nature? But, naturally, such a man 
understands nothing in spiritual things. Where- 
fore ? Is it owing to idleness, which, engrossing 
his mind, makes him neglect to acquire the know- 
ledge of them ? By no means ; for should he employ 
his utmost strength and intelligence, he would still 
fall short of it, for they must be spiritually discerned, 
saith St. Paul, since it is by a spiritual judgment, 
disentangled from carnal passions, that we ought 
to judge thereof. By which he intends, that, being 
hidden and impenetrable to the understandings of 
m|n, they have been discovered and manifested to 
us by the revelation of the Spirit. So that all the 
mysteries of the wisdom of God are but folly to 
man, until he becomes enlightened by his grace. 

" What he denies, however, to men, he attributes 
to God in another place, beseeching him to bestow 
upon the Ephesians the spirit of wisdom and of re- 
velation. By these words we learn, that whatever 
wisdom or revelation the world contains, is a gift 
of God. What farther does he say ? — 1 That he 
would enlighten the eyes of their understanding.' 
They are, therefore, blind, since they stand in need 
of a new illumination. What does he farther add ? 
— ' That ye may know what is the hope of his 
calling, and what the riches of the glory of his in- 
heritance in the saints.' He who presumes upon 



274 WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



having more intelligence than he realty possesses, 
is so much the blinder, as he does not perceive his 
own blindness. 

" But we must now consider that other faculty 
of the soul, the will, in which free-will properly 
consists, if indeed there be any in man. For we 
have already seen that the choice depends rather 
upon the will, than the understanding. And first, 
lest what hath been taught by the philosophers, and 
commonly received, should serve to establish the 
uprightness of the human will, that is, that all 
creatures desire that good which is suitable to 
them; let it be observed, that the force of free-will 
ought not to be considered with reference to that 
desire or appetite, which proceeds rather from a 
propensity of nature than the deliberation of the 
mind. The schoolmen even confess that the action 
of free-will consists in the application of reason to 
two opposing claims. By which they mean that 
the object of the appetite ought to be submitted to 
the choice of the will, and that deliberation ought 
to precede choice. If we examine, indeed, the na- 
ture of that desire which man feels naturally after 
good, we shall find that he possesses this in com- 
mon with animals, who all desire their own advan- 
tage, and who, when any image of advantage 
strikes their senses, pursue it with all their might. 
The question, then, whether man is incited by a 
natural feeling to desire his good, has nothing to 
do with free-wilJ , which, to be truly free, ought to 
discern the good which it desires by the light of 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



275 



reason; and, having distinguished it, to make 
choice of it ; and having chosen it, to pursue the 
enjoyment of it. 

" But in order to remove every difficulty, we 
must here be on our guard against two false con- 
clusions into which we may fall. For the word 
appetite does not signify the proper motion of the 
will, but only a natural inclination. Secondly, the 
word good is not to be understood as meaning 
righteousness and virtue, but those things which 
all creatures desire, as being suitable and proper 
to the preservation and convenience of their being. 
To which it must be farther added, that though 
man passionately desires to obtain what is good 
and suitable for him, he nevertheless does not pur- 
sue it, nor apply himself to search after it. For 
there is no person who does not desire eternal hap- 
piness, and to whom it would not be gratifying ; 
but no one aspires after it, until he is excited to it 
by the Holy Spirit. Since then this natural de- 
sire by no means proves that man possesses a free- 
will, as the inclination which inferior creatures 
have, to tend to the perfection Of their nature, by 
no means proves that there is any freedom in them ; 
we must now consider whether the will of man, 
with reference to other things, is so corrupted that 
it can only produce evil ; or whether any portion 
of it remain entire, from whence any good desires 
may proceed. 

" Those who assert that by the original favour 
of God we are capable of willing effectually, ap- 



276 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



pear to imply that there is in the soul a faculty 
capable of aspiring voluntarily to that which is 
good, but that this faculty is so weak as not to 
be able to rise to a firm and solid affection, or to 
excite man to exert himself to obtain the enjoyment 
of it. Nor is there any doubt but that the school- 
men have commonly followed this opinion, which 
they have taken from Origen, and other ancient 
doctors, so that when they consider man simply 
with respect to his nature, they represent him to us 
in the language of St. Paul : ' For the good that 
I would, I do not ; but the evil which I would not, 
that I do.' But in this way they overthrow the 
whole argument which the apostle maintains in that 
passage where he speaks of the Christian struggle 
(which he treats more briefly in the Epistle to the 
Galatians) that the faithful experience continually 
in themselves, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, 
and the Spirit against the flesh. Now they have 
not the spirit in a way of nature, but by the grace 
of regeneration. That the apostle is speaking of 
those who are regenerated is clear; for having said 
that there was no good thing in him, he adds, in 
explanation, that he is speaking of his flesh. On 
which account he declares that he does not commit 
the evil, and says that it is sin which dwelleth in 
him. What is the import of the qualification, ' In 
me, that is, in my flesh ?' It is certainly as though 
he had said, There dwells no good thing in me of 
myself, seeing that nothing good is to be found in 
my flesh. From whence arises the apology, — It is 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 277 

no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 
Which is true of the faithful alone, who are aiming 
at doing good, with reference to their minds. Be- 
sides, the conclusion which he adds, manifestly 
shews this : * I delight in the law of God after the 
inward man. But I see another law in my mem- 
bers, warring against the law of my mind.' Who 
could experience such a combat but the person 
who, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, still feels the 
remains of sin in his flesh? On which account St. 
Austin, having sometimes explained this passage of 
the nature of man, retracted afterwards his expli- 
cation, as false and ill founded. 

" If we once allow, indeed, that man possesses 
the smallest inclination to that which is good, with- 
out the grace of God, how shall we answer the 
apostle, who denies that we are capable of even 
thinking a good thought?* What shall we reply 
to Jehovah, who declares to us by the mouth of 
Moses, that every imagination of the thoughts of 
his heart was only evil continually?! Since, then 5 
they have imposed upon themselves by the false in- 
terpretation of a passage, we must not be influ- 
enced by their fancy. Let us rather listen to what 
Jesus Christ addresses to us in his gospel, that 
whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 
But we are all sinners by nature; it follows, there- 
fore, that we are all naturally under the yoke of 
sin. That if man be altogether subjected to the 



* 2 Cor. iii. 5. 

24 



t Gen. vi. 5. 



278 WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 

dominion of sin, we must necessarily conclude, 
that the will, which is one of his principal facul- 
ties, is also captive, and bound by the strongest 
fetters. What St. Paul also asserts, that it is God 
who worketh in us, both to will and to do of his 
good pleasure, is not to be maintained upon the 
supposition of our will preceding the grace of the 
Holy Spirit. Far be from us then, the opinion of 
all those, who tell us of 1 know not what prepara- 
tions and dispositions in our nature, to embrace 
that which is good. I confess that believers, after 
the example of David, beseech God to dispose 
their hearts to obey his law ; but it is to be remem- 
bered, that the very desire to pray proceeds from 
God : which may easily be gathered from the words 
ef that holy prophet. For, beseeching God to 
create in him a new heart, he does not' even attri- 
bute the beginning of such a creation to himself. 
Let us, therefore, rather receive what St. Austin 
addresses to us : — 6 God,' saith he, 1 hath pre- 
vented thee in all things. Prevent then his anger 
— but how? Confess that you have received all 
from him ; that all the good which you possess 
proceeds from him, and all the evil from your- 
selves. Nothing,' saith he, 1 belongs to us but 
sin.'"* 



* Instit. lib. ii. cap. 2. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 279 



On Justification. 

From the preceding quotations on the subject of 
Free-will, we can scarcely fail to be convinced that 
man, degraded and rendered utterly impotent by 
the fall, must be absolutely indebted to foreign 
assistance for his recovery and elevation. To a 
mind adequately impressed with this conviction, 
the question, " How shall I be just with God ?" 
will not fail to recur with exquisitely painful inter- 
est, until answered by an accurate and comprehen- 
sive view of the doctrine of justification, derived 
from the infallible source of truth. When it is 
considered that the law of God enjoins universal 
and perpetual obedience, it must be evident that a 
single transgression must for ever preclude the 
possibility of being justified by a broken cove- 
nant ; since to condemn is all the law can do, 
whose reiterated language is, " the soul that sin- 
neth, it shall die." It is evident, therefore, that such 
a righteousness as can alone be available for justi- 
fication, can never proceed from the law of Moses 
(as the apostle asserts), unless the same law which 
constitutes sin, and threatens the guilty with pu- 
nishment, can at the same time be supposed to 
abate its claims and tolerate iniquity, which, as it 
supposes it to be mutable, is absurd. To conceive 
of the Divine Being as enacting a law illustrative 
of the immutable holiness of his nature, and to 
suppose him to surrender the execution of its pe~ 



280 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



nalties on the ground of a partial obedience to its 
precepts, is an implication that either the law is 
excessive in its demands, or that the Supreme Le- 
gislator is merciful at the expense of his justice; 
the former of which arraigns the wisdom, and the 
latter the equity of Him who is infinite in counsel, 
and essentially just. The nature and importance 
of justification, clearly illustrated by the apostle, 
in the fifth chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, 
and in the first verse, furnish us with convincing 
evidence on the interesting subject. That justifi- 
cation is a gratuitous act of God, placing us in a 
state of salvation, in consideration of the righte- 
ousness of Jesus Christ, is evident from the con- 
nexion of the words, which by a very unhappy di- 
vision of chapters are separated from the premises 
from which they are an inference. The formal 
ground of justification, as stated in the Scriptures, 
appears to be the righteousness of Jesus Christ, re- 
ceived by faith; consequently, all those passages 
which speak of justification by faith, must be con- 
sidered as standing in direct opposition to works, 
as forming any ground of acceptance with God; 
and as containing an implied sense, that it is not as 
a meritorious principle, that faith justifies; but as 
it is the appropriation of a gracious provision, 
adapted to the feelings of an enlightened consci- 
ence. " It is necessary," says our author, " to 
explain this subject, and so to consider this article 
of justification by faith, as to be impressed with 
its being one of the principal points of the Chris- 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 281 



tian religion, that we may apply ourselves to the 
examination of it, with all the attention and preci- 
sion of which we are capable. For as we have no 
foundation upon which to rest our salvation, unless 
we know in what light God views us, and his will 
concerning us; neither can we without this know- 
ledge have any support upon which we can place 
the reverence and piety which are due to him. Let 
us, therefore, inquire into the meaning of those ex- 
pressions — To be justified before God; to be justi- 
fied by faith; or, to be justified by W07'ks. 

" As iniquity is abominable in the eyes of God, 
it is impossible for man to find favour in his sight 
as a sinner, or while he is considered under that 
character. For wherever sin is found, the wrath 
and vengeance of God are to be found also. He 
is, therefore, justified who is not considered as a 
sinner, but a righteous person; and who, on that 
ground, is qualified to stand before the tribunal of 
God, where sinners must appear with confusion. 
For example, if a man wrongfully accused, appear 
before the tribunal of an equitable judge, and be 
absolved and declared innocent after due examina- 
tion, it must of course be said that he is justly 
cleared, and that he is justified from the crime of 
which he was accused. We say also that man is 
justified before God, when, being separated from 
the number of sinners, God is the witness and as- 
serter of his righteousness. Thus we say man is 
justified by his works, when his life exhibits such 
purity and holiness as merit to be approved before 
24* 



282 WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 

the tribunal of God as a perfect righteousness; or 
when, by the innocence and perfection of his works^ 
he can satisfy his judgment. On the contrary, he 
is said to be justified by faith, who, excluded from 
the righteousness of works, receives by faith the 
righteousness of Jesus Christ; and who, clothed in 
that divine righteousness, appears in the presence 
of God, not as a sinner, but as a righteous per- 
son. We say, then, in a word, that our justifica- 
tion is a gratuitous acceptation, by which God, re- 
ceiving us into his favour, considers us as just ; and 
we shall also maintain that this acceptation con- 
sists in the imputation of the righteousness of Jesus 
Christ. 

The Scriptures furnish us with many evident 
testimonies to confirm what we have now advanced. 
I will only allege a few, in which the subject of 
justification is expressly treated. When St. Luke 
relates, that all the people that heard him, and the 
publicans, justified God ; and Jesus Christ declares 
that wisdom is justified of all her children ; the 
word justify, in those passages, cannot possibly 
signify that men confer righteousness upon God, 
which ever resides essentially and perfectly in him, 
though all the world should conspire to deprive 
him of it ; or that they can render the doctrine of 
salvation just, since it is so in itself; but both me- 
thods of speaking imply, that those whom the evan- 
gelist mentions, attributed to God, and to his word, 
the glory and praise due to them. On the other 
hand, when Jesus Christ reproaches the Pharisees 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 283 



with 4 justifying themselves before men,' he is not 
to be understood as meaning that they aimed at 
the acquisition of righteousness by doing good; 
but that from an ambitious motive they aimed at 
procuring the reputation of being righteous, though 
they were entirely devoid of righteousness itself. 

" With regard to the subject in hand, St. Paul 
observes, that God, in the Scriptures, foreseeing 
that he would justify the heathen through faith, 
preached before the gospel, unto Abraham, saying, 

* In thee shall all nations be blessed.' How are 
we, therefore, to understand this expression, unless 
it be that God considers them as righteous through 
the medium of faith ? Thus, where it is said that 
God ' might be just, and the justifier of him which 
believeth in Jesus,' what meaning can we attach to 
the expression, unless it be, that by means of faith 
he delivereth sinners from that condemnation which 
they deserve by their impiety ? which he expresses 
still more clearly afterwards, where he exclaims, 

* Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's 
elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that 
condemneth ? It is Christ that died, yea, rather 
that is risen again, who is even at the right hand 
ef God, who also maketh intercession for us.' For 
it is equivalent to saying, Who shall accuse those 
whom God absolves f Who shall dare to condemn 
those whom God undertakes to defend ? To justify 
is, therefore, no other than to absolve him who is 
accused, and to free him from condemnation as 
though his personal innocence had been acknow- 



284 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



ledged. Thus, since God justifies through the in- 
tervention of Jesus Christ, he absolves us not on 
the ground of our personal innocence, but by im- 
puting to us the righteousness of his Son ; so that 
we are accounted righteous in Jesus Christ, although 
not so in ourselves. 

" But farther, to abandon a dispute about the 
word, if we consider with attention the thing itself, 
as represented to us in the Scriptures, there can be 
no difficult}'. For St. Paul makes use of the word 
acceptance, when he intends to shew that God jus- 
tifies us. ' We are,' says he, 6 predestinated unto 
the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, 
according to the good pleasure of his will, to the 
praise of the glory of his grace wherein he hath 
made us accepted in the beloved.'* The apostle's 
meaning here is synonymous with what he expres- 
ses in other passages; that God justifies us freely 
by his grace. In the fourth chapter of the Epistle 
to the Romans, he asserts primarily that we are 
just, because God accounts us so by his grace; 
after which, he makes our justification consist in 
the remission of sins. ' Thus,' says he, 4 David 
also describeth the blessedness of the man unto 
whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 
saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are for- 
given, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the 
man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.' It is 
evident that he there speaks, not of a detached part 



* Epb. i. 5. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



285 



of our justification, but of our justification entire. 
He asserts also that the prophet David expresses 
it, by pronouncing those happy, who have obtained 
the gratuitous pardon of their faults. From whence 
it appears evidently, that he considers as two op- 
posite points, being justified, and being considered 
as guilty. But there is no passage more express 
in proof of my assertion, than that in which he 
teaches, that the foundation and essence of the 
gospel consists in reconciling us unto God, because 
God is willing to receive us into his favour, by not 
imputing to us our sins. Let the reader examine 
carefully the whole text of the apostle. For he 
immediately adds, that Jesus Christ, who knew no 

sin, was made em for us • exprcaoing thereby the 

method of our reconciliation, and understanding, 
consequently, nothing by the word to reconcile, 
but, to justify. Nor can his expression in another 
place be maintained, unless we are considered just 
before God in Jesus Christ, and out of ourselves."* 

Not to pursue our author in his refutations of the 
wild reveries of Osiander, whom he opposes ; let 
us listen to the language in which he celebrates the 
praise of this illustrious doctrine, as it secures and 
promotes that peace of conscience, which passes all 
understanding, and includes the pledge and anti- 
past of celestial bliss. 

" If we inquire," says he, " how the conscience 
may become tranquil, and rejoice before God, we 



* lnstit. lib. iii. cap. 11, 



286 



WRITINGS OF CALtlN. 



shall find that it is not possible for peace and joy 
to reign there, unless God of his pure mercy con- 
fer upon us his own righteousness. What Solomon 
observes in his Proverbs, ought ever to be impressed 
upon our minds : * Who can say, I have made my 
heart clean, I am pure from sin?'* There is cer- 
tainly no man whose heart is not crowded with im- 
purities. Let the most righteous and the most 
perfect examine their conscience and their conduct. 
What must be the issue of such a process ? Dare 
they quietly take their repose, as though they had 
gained their cause by pleading against God, and 
had henceforth nothing to transact with him ? On 
the contrary, if they are estimated according to 
their works, will ihey not be rent by dreadful tor- 
ments, while they experience that they carry about 
with them the cause of their condemnation ? The 
conscience, as it respects God, must either enjoy 
peace with him, without fearing his judgment; or 
be in perpetual alarms, and, as it were, besieged by 
inconceivable terrors. We, therefore, make no 
progress while disputing about righteousness, un- 
less we establish such an one, upon the firmness of 
which our souls may rest and be supported before 
the tribunal of God. 

"It is, therefore, not without reason that the 
apostle urges this argument, whose words I abun- 
dantly prefer to my own. ' If they which are of 
the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the pro- 
mise made of none effect.' f He infers, that faith 



* Prov. xx. 9« 



t Rom. iv. 14- 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



287 



becomes useless and void, if righteousness respects 
the merits of our works, or depends upon the ob- 
servance of the law. 

" The ground of assurance is explained by this 
apostle, and stated to be the love of God shed 
abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is 
given unto us.* As if he had said, our souls can 
never be in a calm and tranquil state, unless we are 
firmly persuaded that we are acceptable to God. 
Whence, personating believers universally, he ex- 
claims, 1 Who shall separate us from the love of 
Christ ?'f For until we have reached this haven, 
the least storm will be sufficient to alarm us, every 
gust of wind will make us tremble ; but when God 
shall espouse our cause as our Shepherd, we shall 
walk with confidence through darkness, and even 
through the shadow of death. "J 



On the Perseverance of the Saints. 

Against the doctrine of the final perseverance of 
the saints, an opposition has been raised and per- 
petuated, not merely on a presumption of the erro- 
neous nature, but also of the dangerous tendency 
of the sentiment. How far it deserves such treat- 
ment, may be ascertained from the following view 
df the doctrine itself. 



* Rom. v. 5. t Rom. viii. 35. f Instit. lib. iii. cap. 13, 



288 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



" It is affirmed, that those whom Jesus Christ 
hath enlightened with the knowledge of himself, 
and introduced into the bosom of his church, are 
received, and taken under his protection; and of 
all whom he receives, it is farther said, that the 
Father hath committed them unto him, and given 
him the charge of them, to conduct them to eternal 
life. What more can be desired ? Jesus Christ 
proclaims in his gospel, that the Father hath 
placed under his protection all those whose salva- 
tion he hath decreed.* Do we wish to know 
whether God is careful about our salvation ? let us 
examine his word, and inquire if he hath not in- 
trusted it to Jesus Christ, whom he hath appointed 
to be the Saviour of all who are intrusted to him. 
If we doubt whether Jesus Christ hath placed us 
under his protection, he anticipates the doubt by 
representing himself as our Shepherd, and decla- 
ring that he will receive us into the number of his 
sheep, if we will hear his voice. Let us, then, 
embrace him, since he presents himself to us with 
so much benignity, and anticipates our reception. 
Doubtless he will place us in the number of the 
sheep of his flock, and guard us in his fold. 

" But to this it may be objected, that we ought 
to be solicitous with respect to what may happen 
to us ; and that when we contemplate futurity, our 
infirmities admonish us to be continually solici- 
tous. For, as St. Paul says, the people of God 



* John vi. 37 3 and xvii. 6 — 12. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN* 



289 



i are called according to his purpose.' Jesus Christ 
also informs us that, though i many are called, few 
are chosen.' St. Paul himself, in another place, 
cautions us against security; i Wherefore,' says he, 
' let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest 
he fall.' Experience, indeed, teaches us that our 
faith and calling are but of comparatively little 
consequence, unless perseverance, which is not 
universally bestowed, be joined to them. — To this 
I reply, that Jesus Christ hath delivered us from 
this uneasiness and perplexity. For there can be 
no doubt but that his promises relate to futurity. 
4 All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me; 
and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast 
out. This is the Father's will, which hath sent 
me, that of all which he hath given me I should 
lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the 
last day.'* 4 My sheep,' saith he, elsewhere, 4 hear 
my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 
And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall 
never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of 
my hand. My Father which gave them me is 
greater than all : and none is able to pluck them 
out of my Father's hand.'f 

"By declaring, also, that every plant not planted 
by his heavenly Father, should be rooted up, he 
teaches that, on the contrary, it is not possible 
that those who have taken deep root in God, 
should be rooted up. In unison with which are 



* John vi. 37, 39, 40. t John x. 27—29= 
25 



290 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



those words of the apostle John : 4 They went out 
from us, but they were not of us : for if they had 
been of us, they would no doubt have continued 
with us.' It was on this ground that the apostle 
Paul exulted so boldly over life and death, over 
things present and things to come. Which could 
only be founded upon the certain persuasion of his 
perseverance. And he doubtless addresses himself 
to the whole body of the elect, in the following ex- 
pression : 4 Being confident of this very thing, 
that he which hath begun a good work in you, will 
perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.' David, 
also, feeling his faith shaken by the violence of 
temptation, leans upon this prop: 'The Lord.' 
saith he, £ will perfect that which concerneth me : 
thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever ; forsake not 
the works of thine own hands.' Besides which, it 
is not to be doubted that Jesus Christ, praying for 
the elect, besought for them what he requested for 
St. Peter, ' that their faith might not fail.' From 
whence we conclude that they are out of danger of 
falling into apostacy, since the Son of God having 
prayed on their behalf, that they might remain 
firm and constant, was not denied his petition. 
What does Jesus Christ, therefore, intend to teach 
us here ? Certainly, that our eternal salvation is 
secured, by the circumstance of our having been 
once given to Jesus Christ. 

" But it occurs daily (it will be said), that those 
who appear to belong to Jesus Christ, fall away 
and revolt. And that even in the passage where 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 291 



he declares, that none whom the Father had given 
him could be lost, he excepts the son of perdition, 
This is true; but it is on the other hand certain, 
that those persons have never adhered to Jesus 
Christ with that confidence of heart, upon which 
we assert the assurance of our election to be found- 
ed. 4 They went out from us,' as we have just 
heard from St. John, c but they were not of us ; for 
if they had been of us, they would no doubt, have 
continued with us.' I do not deny but that they 
may have the same marks of their calling as those 
of the elect; but I cannot allow them that firm 
and solid foundation of election which I enjoin the 
faithful to seek in the word of the gospel. Let 
not these examples, therefore, make us uneasy, nor 
prevent our tranquil repose upon the promises of 
the Lord Jesus, in which he expressly declares, 
that the Father hath given him all those who have 
received him with a genuine faith, and that none of 
them shall perish, since he is their guardian and 
protector. We shall speak elsewhere of Judas. 

" As to what relates to St. Paul, he by no means 
absolutely prohibits all kinds of confidence, but a 
certain carnal indolence, and contempt of other 
men ; an indolence which extinguishes humility, 
overthrows the respect and reverence which we 
owe to God, and which leads men to forget his be- 
nefits. For in that passage he is addressing the. 
Gentiles, whom he teaches that they ought not to 
insult the Jews, under the pretext, that their having 
been rejected, they had been substituted in their 



292 



WRITINGS OF CALVIJv. 



place. The fear which he requires is not a festc 
which should induce consternation, but a fear 
which, instructing us to revere with humility the 
grace of God, abates in no degree the confidence 
which we feel in him, as we have elsewhere ex- 
plained it. 

" Add to this, that he is not addressing his dis- 
course particularly to individual believers, but in 
general to the sects which then existed amongst 
men. For the church was at that time divided in- 
to two parties ; and envy and pride being the cause 
of that divorce, St. Paul admonishes the Pagans> 
that if they were put in the place of the holy peo- 
ple, peculiarly consecrated to God, such a circum- 
stance ought to furnish them with a motive to fear 
and modesty. Besides, there were many of them 
filled with vanity, whose pride and presumption it 
was necessary to overthrow. We have also seen 
already, that our hope must be extended to futurity, 
and even beyond death; and that nothing is more 
opposed to the nature of hope, than to be in doubt 
and uncertainty with respect to what may happen 
to us in futurity."* 

The above quotations will, no doubt, convey to 
the mind of the reader an accurate conception of 
the real sentiments of our author. The impor- 
tance of those sentiments will justify, it is hoped, 
the extent of quotation adopted, and supersede the 
necessity of an apology. 



* Instit. lib. iji. cap. 24, 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



293 



A considerable degree of interest having been 
excited on the subject of the doctrinal sentiments 
of the Church of England, it would perhaps appear 
a real defect in a work of this description, to de- 
cline all notice of the subject. To the writer of the 
present work, the coincidence of the Articles and 
Liturgy of the Church of England with the leading 
truths of Calvinism, appears so evident, that nothing 
more can be necessary, in his opinion, than a sim- 
ple and unprejudiced comparison, to establish the 
conviction. 

By those who are acquainted with ecclesiastical 
history, it will also be recollected, that Calvin re- 
vised the English Liturgy ; and that upon his sug- 
gestion, several important alterations were made in 
it. That he corresponded with Cranmer, and that 
on doctrinal sentiments, there existed an entire 
uniformity of sentiment between the English and 
foreign reformers. Differing widely as did Cran- 
mer and Calvin, on the subject of ecclesiastical 
discipline, it must be obvious to every one, that 
the instances in which the judgment of Calvin was 
consulted, must relate chiefly, if not exclusively, 
to doctrine. To denominate the Articles of the 
Church of England Arminian, is an instance of 
the grossest absurdity, as they were drawn up long 
before Arminius was born. To persons disposed 
to investigate the subject fully, the writer would 
25* 



294 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



earnestly recommend Topladtfs Historic Proof of 
the Calvinism of the Church of England, in which 
work the fact is absolutely demonstrated.* 

"With a modesty worthy of himself, the Bishop 
of Lincoln has recently published a work, entitled, 
6 A Refutation of Calvinism.' Before his lordship 
writes any more ' Refutations' of systems which he 
does not understand, it is to be hoped he will at 
least inform himself as it respects his own side of 
the controversy. Besides imputing to the Calvin- 
ists some things which belong to no existing sect ; 
some in a sense which they disown; and some 
which are peculiar to other sects ; more than half of 
his lordship's quotations from the fathers have no 
bearing on the subject ; and several of the remain- 
der militate against his own avowed opinions. 
But his lordship's master-piece consists in his quo- 
ting, as the language of modern Calvinism, a pas- 
sage from one of the Homilies of the Church of 
England!!! His lordship being therefore a con- 
troversial suicide, the verdict of a jury of critics 
Can be no other than that offelo de se." f 

The coincidence of Calvinism with our common 
Christianity, being so intimate, as to subject its as- 



* See also " The Fathers, the Reformers, and the For- 
mularies of the Church of England, in Harmony with 
Calvin, and against the Bishop of Lincoln. By a Lay- 
man." — A masterly work. 

t Speech of Mr. John Mackenzie, at the Aniversary 
Meeting of the Auxiliary Bible Society, for the County of 
Huntingdon 1812. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



295 



sailants to the charge of criminal ignorance ; the 
earnest caution of an eminent divine, lately de- 
ceased, who was grieved to observe with what 
" little knowledge of the subject some adventured 
to write against Calvinism," deserves the serious 
attention of every inquirer after religious truth: — 
" Take especial care, before you aim your shafts 
at Calvinism, that you know what is Calvinism, 
and what is not: that in the mass of doctrine which 
it is of late become the fashion to abuse under the 
name of Calvinism, you can distinguish with cer- 
tainty between that part of it which is nothing bet- 
ter than Calvinism, and that which belongs to our 
common Christianity, and the general faith of the 
reformed churches ; lest, when you mean only to 
fall foul of Calvinism, you should unwarily attack 
something more sacred and of higher origin."* 



From the preceding Memoirs of the Life and 
Writings of our Reformer, it is not, perhaps, an 
undue inference, that the reader is disposed to place 
the subject of them in the very first rank of emi- 
nent and important characters. Endowed with the 
brightest intellect, and enriched with the most ex- 
alted attainments, it is certain that Calvin had but 
few equals amongst his contemporaries. But it is 
neither the grasp of his intellect, nor the extent of 



Bishop Horsley's Last Charge. 



296 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



his attainments, which constitutes the point of ad- 
miration in his character. It is the consecration of 
his attainments, and of his energies, to the best of 
causes, the multiplicity and severity of his labours, 
and their practical influence upon society, that con- 
stitute the elevation which distinguishes him from 
inferior characters, and fixes the gaze of posterity. 

Of his eminence in later life, his expanding mind 
gave early promise; for at the age of twenty-two, 
he was accounted the most learned man in Europe. 
That he redeemed this pledge, is matter of histo- 
ric record. His works constitute a monument of 
posthumous fame, more durable than brass ; and 
he is by nothing more distinguished, than by that 
attribute of a great mind — humility. In all his 
works, we discover that grandeur and purity of 
mind, which necessarily results from the under- 
standing being brought into contact with the veri- 
ties of the Christian faith. He had surveyed the 
heavenly land with accuracy and delight ; and the 
clusters which he bore from thence, constituted his 
fair report. Next to the inspired writers them- 
selves, there is, perhaps, no author who has infused 
so much of the spirit of Christianity into his works. 
The richest views of doctrinal truth are every where 
combined with the practical claims of Christianity. 
We feel ourselves in the presence of a teacher, who 
not only illustrates with perspicuity, but enforces 
with authority, the doctrines and precepts of reli- 
gion ; and the admiration we feel for his genius is 
only surpassed by the veneration which we enter- 
tain for his piety. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 297 

When it is recollected that the writings of Calvin 
fill twenty folio volumes, that he maintained a con- 
stant and extensive correspondence on the subject 
of the Reformation, and the state of the Protestant 
churches ; and, that he was continually employed 
in preaching — in giving theological lectures — and 
in assisting at all the deliberations of the Consis- 
tory ; it might be supposed, as has been observed, 
that his " soul of fire" must have been supported by 
" a frame of adamant he was, however, the sub- 
ject of numerous and painful maladies, which ren- 
dered his exertions almost incredible. No man 
ever better understood or exemplified the " divine 
philosophy" of redeeming time. He lived at a 
great rate ; and must be estimated not by his years, 
which were comparatively few, but by his labours, 
which were great and many. In his own person he 
practically refuted the calumny which charged his 
system of theology with inactivity. Had he antici- 
pated eternal life, as the wages of laborious piety, 
he could not have exemplified a more blameless 
life ; but he looked for it, as " the gift of God 
through Jesus Christ our Lord." Influenced by 
gratitude for the incipient blessings of salvation re- 
ceived, burning with love to God, kindled by the 
contemplation of his moral beauty, and acting per- 
petually with reference to the divine honour ; he 
described a course equally brilliant and useful, im- 
parting light and heat to the hemisphere in which he 
shone. In the presence of this " greater light," the 
stars of pagan philosophy, of corrupt tradition, and 



298 WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 

of false systems of Christianity, are blotted out of 
the moral firmament ; and it is only by his obscu- 
ration, that they can have " leave to shine." 

The intrepidity of Calvin, equally uniform and 
effective, was by no means constitutional. We have 
his own testimony in proof that he was " naturally 
timid." His courage was, therefore, that of prin~ 
ciple, sustained by a consciousness of integrity, 
and elevated by the dignity of the cause in which 
he was embarked. The fear of the Supreme Be- 
ing, when it is radical and uniform, renders the 
mind insensible to the influence of constitutional 
fear and anxiety, and arms it for all the contingen- 
cies of the mortal conflict. Though Calvin was 
not called to the act of martyrdom, there can be no 
doubt but that he possessed the principle ; and would 
have exemplified it by embracing the stake, had he 
been conducted thither by the combined cruelty of 
earth and hell. It is not, however, to great and 
splendid single acts, that principle is confined: 
there is more of unequivocal greatness of mind and 
moral triumph, in the daily martyrdom of which 
the apostle speaks, when he says, " I die daily," 
and when the martyr is his own executioner, than 
in any single act which can be opposed to it. The 
courage of our reformer was eminently of this de- 
scription ; it was not so much a triumph over 
others as over himself; — a consecration of his be- 
ing, and of all his temporal interests, to a cause 
which was supreme in his estimate, and which ad- 
mitted of no compromise. 



WRITINGS OF CALVIN. 



299 



The aptness of the human mind to pass from one 
extreme to another, is proverbial; and perhaps 
was never more strikingly illustrated than in the 
French Revolution, when the bulk of the popula- 
tion passed from the extreme of superstition to that 
of infidelity. At the period of the Reformation, 
'however, though the renunciation of popery was 
absolute, the wholesome influence of the reformers 
upon the public mind secured the veneration of 
primitive Christianity, which gilded, as it rose, the 
summits of Germany, of France, and of Great Bri- 
tain. The instrumentality of Calvin, in arresting 
the march of the human mind in its passage from 
superstition, is evident in the matured establish- 
ment of the reformed religion in France, of which 
he was the principal founder. The system of ec- 
clesiastical discipline which he gave to Geneva, 
consolidated the reformation in France, and rea- 
lized all the practical benefits, which might have 
been anticipated from so scriptural an exposition 
of the nature and claims of a Christian church. 
Built upon a rock, the battering-ram of the author 
xif " Ecclesiastical Polity" has not even disturbed 
the cement which unites the matchless edifice. 

Of the admirers of the subject of these Memoirs, 
the author would now take leave, by remarking, 
that the most solid praise consists in a careful imi- 
tation of him whom we admire. 



THE END, 




THE 



^crtptttre 53octrtnr 



OF THE 



Appropriation which is in the Nature of 
Saving Faith; 



By JOHN ANDERSON, D. D. Minister of the Gospel in the 
Associate Congregations of Mill Creek, Kings Creek, 
and Racoon, near Pittsburgh. 



:J We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall 
be saved." Acts s.r.ll. 

Third Edition. — One Volume \8mo. — pp. 204. 

Price 50 Cents singly — For 12 copies, #4.50 — For 24 copies. 
#8.75 — and over that number, 33| cts. per copy. 



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